President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed Reince Priebus as his chief of staff and replaced him with retired four-star Marine Corps General and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, The Hill reports.
Priebus has borne the brunt of the blame for the lack of progress on Trump’s legislative agenda. He has been derided for months by Trump allies and outside critics saw him as a weak chief of staff who was never able to become a gatekeeper for the president.
Trump abruptly announced the decision Friday evening on Twitter as Air Force One landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland as he returned from a trip to New York. “I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff,” he tweeted.
Speaking to reporters minutes later, Trump said Priebus was a “good man” but called his Homeland Security chief a “star”. “Reince is a good man. John Kelly will do a fantastic job. Gen. Kelly has been a star, done an incredible job thus far, respected by everybody. He’s a great, great American,” the president said.
Priebus served 189 days on the job, the shortest tenure of any White House chief of staff in history. His dismissal marks the end of a tumultuous tenure in which he clashed with other top Trump advisers, most recently Anthony Scaramucci, the newly named communications director.
Priebus had initially tried to block Scaramucci from another White House job. But last week, Trump tapped the brash Wall Street financier to lead the White House press shop over strong objections from Priebus and then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Spicer resigned as a result of that hire, depriving Priebus of a key ally.
The dispute burst into public view this week when Scaramucci accused Priebus of leaking to the news media. In a profane tirade to a New Yorker reporter, Scaramucci called Priebus a “f—ing paranoid schizophrenic” and said that he will be “asked to resign very shortly”.
While the Scaramucci spat may have been the final straw for Priebus, his departure has long been in the works, The Hill writes.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Trump and Priebus have been talking for two weeks about his exit and that Kelly and Trump have been talking about the move “for a while”. Kelly will start in his new post on Monday, when there will be a Cabinet meeting, according to Sanders.
Priebus, the former Republican National Committee chairman, said during an interview hours later on CNN that he offered his resignation and Trump accepted it.
The chief of staff’s ouster caps off one of the toughest weeks of Trump’s presidency. It comes less than a day after the Republican push to repeal ObamaCare collapsed in the Senate.
The former Republican Party chief was hired as Trump’s top aide in part because his ability to leverage his ties to top lawmakers on Capitol Hill, such as Speaker Paul Ryan, to advance Trump’s agenda on healthcare and tax reform.
The Priebus-led RNC played an integral role propelling Trump to victory in the 2016 election, helping launch the campaign’s data program and serving as its team on the ground in several key states.
In just over six months, Trump has seen his chief of staff, press secretary, deputy chief of staff, national security adviser, deputy national security adviser and communications director either be fired, resign or take other jobs.