President Donald Trump ousted White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and replaced him with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Friday in a major upheaval meant to restore order and military precision in a west wing beset for six consecutive months by chaos, infighting and some tangible achievements.
With his legislative agenda largely blocked, Trump became convinced that Priebus was a “weak” leader after being intensely urged by rival advisers to suppress the establishment Republican group that has long had friction with some of the loyalists of the Trump’s inner circle, according to White House officials. .
Kelly’s hiring is expected to result in potentially sweeping structural changes in the turbulent operation. Kelly intends to bring a semblance of traditional discipline to the West Wing, where war advisers have been able to bypass the chief of staff and report directly to the president and bypass the political process, according to people familiar with his plans.
Kelly, a retired four-star Navy general, won Trump’s endorsement for his work to combat illegal immigration and his leadership qualities, both on the battlefield and in the Department of Security domestic, according to White House officials, who said the president has been talking about replacing Priebus with Kelly in recent weeks.
“He’s a great American and a great leader,” Trump tweeted. “John did a spectacular job at Homeland Security as well. He was a real star in my administration.”
The President added: “I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to his country. We have accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!”
The announcement follows deep personal animosity between Priebus and Anthony Scaramucci, newly appointed White House communications director, erupted into public view Thursday when Scaramucci accused the chief of staff of leaking damaging information to his subject to the media and saved Priebus in blasphemy. laced interview with The New Yorker.
Priebus said in a statement, “It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve this President and our country. I want to thank the President for giving me this very special opportunity. I will continue to be a strong supporter of the president’s agenda and policies. I cannot think of a better person than General John Kelly to succeed me and I wish him God’s blessings and great success. “
Priebus’ allies said he told them he resigned on Thursday, concluding that the internal chaos would only get worse. A friend of Priebus said the chief of staff described the situation as “unsustainable”, saying he felt humiliated by the president’s treatment of him and was frustrated that he could not assert control over the duties of base of the White House, such as policy-making, communications and even White House announcements – which have at times been made on impulse by the president, such as this week’s announcement to ban transgender people from serve in the military.
But some White House officials said the decision to leave Priebus was made by Trump and the president kicked him out on Friday. Those officials noted that Priebus chaired the Friday morning senior executives meeting and accompanied Trump to a law enforcement event in New York City.
Either way, his final departure was a humiliating coda for what had been a largely degrading tenure in which Priebus had regularly been belittled and emasculated by rival advisers – and even, at times, by the President himself.
When Air Force One landed at Andrew Air Force Base on Friday afternoon, Priebus, Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller and Social Media Director Dan Scavino all boarded a suburb. But moments later, Miller and Scavino jumped out of the vehicle and, as information leaked about the chief of staff’s ouster, reporters walked over to take pictures of Priebus, who was sitting alone on the rain-soaked tarmac. Priebus’ vehicle then withdrew from the presidential motorcade, which proceeded to the White House without him.
“I think any observer – including one who spoke no English and knew nothing about politics and came from another planet and another solar system – could, after observing the situation at the White House, realize that the White House is failing, “said one of them. informal White House adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity to share a heartfelt assessment. “And when the White House fails, you can’t replace the president.”
Trump has long been drawn to military leaders – “my generals,” he calls them – and by appointing Kelly, the president hopes to bring military discipline to his often unruly West wing. Kelly is expected to be sworn in to the post on Monday morning and to call a Cabinet meeting.
Kelly, who is widely admired by members of the Trump family and loyalists, has forged ties with the president in recent months that have grown stronger when he has aggressively defended the travel ban policy. Their relationship has only grown stronger since then, with Trump telling his staff that he sees Kelly as someone who dutifully follows his agenda – including a crackdown on border security and a sharp reduction in illegal immigration – and does not pose a problem for him.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the new White House press secretary, said of Kelly in a statement: “The whole administration loves her and no one compares.”
Sanders also praised Priebus for his service. “He was loyal in his dedication to the president,” she said. “The President thanks him and his family for his excellent service to the country, and he will always be a member of the Trump team.”
Priebus, who as chairman of the Republican National Committee had a close relationship with Trump during last year’s campaign, has been appointed White House chief of staff to bring Washington’s experience to the administration of ‘a political novice.
Part of Priebus’ speech for the post was that he could use his long-standing connections with Republican leaders on Capitol Hill – including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., A personal friend – to help push through Trump’s ambitious agenda, including major legislation. on health care and taxes.
But Priebus was consumed by internal battles, not only clashing with Scaramucci, but finding himself besieged by Trump advisers inside and outside the White House who complained of being ineffective and more concerned with its own public image than that of the president.
After Scaramucci was appointed communications director last week over Priebus ‘vehement objections, White House officials widely believed Priebus’ position had become more threatened.
Priebus firing rumors have been circulating for months now. As a senior White House official put it, there was a “six-month fake death march.” But the dynamics have changed over the past 10 days or so.
“It has reached a climax of the president complaining about Reince to all of us,” said the official, who requested anonymity to speak frankly. “If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it 20 times last week – this erosion of trust. The word was “weak” – “weak”, “weak”, “weak”. ‘I can not do it.’ “
Trump’s own family had soured on Priebus at least several weeks before. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, had told associates that he believed Priebus was doing a bad job and ineffectively running the White House – a view that Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and advisor, said. and First Lady Melania Trump also privately conveyed to the President.
Any negative mention of Priebus in a news story – even a single sentence or a simple clause – often prompted frantic phone calls from more junior staff members reporting directly to him, the kind of vigorous defense in the media that the President made use of. came to believe was not offered. to him. The impression in the White House – that Priebus was most concerned with defending his own image – further undermined his position with Trump and the president’s family.
Both Kushner and Ivanka Trump were in favor of Priebus leaving on Friday, but also expressed their admiration for Kelly, according to an administration official.
Ryan released a statement praising Priebus, saying he “left everything behind on the pitch, for our party and our country.”
“He’s done so much, and he did it all in style,” Ryan said. “I couldn’t be prouder to call Reince a dear friend.”
As Trump traveled to New York on Friday, he took Scaramucci and Priebus on Air Force One with him.
Asked to comment on the changes, Trump told reporters traveling with him that Priebus was a “good man” and that Kelly was “respected by everyone.”
Kelly enjoys a warm relationship with Chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon, who has worked closely with him to shape the administration’s border enforcement policy. They bonded through the military service of their families. Bannon, a former naval officer, has a daughter who graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point.
Kelly is also highly regarded by Kushner, who sees him as a stable presence with an understated personality. He described Kelly to Associates as the kind of person he would like to see more of his say in administration.
Kelly’s reputation and ability to work with both wings of a warring West wing made the decision easier for Trump, officials said.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)