President Trump confirmed Saturday that White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly wants to leave by the end of the year, capping the retired Marine's general rocky tenure as the president's top aide.
White House official had previously indicated Kelly would serve as his chief of staff by 2020 at Trump's request, but the clashes between the two men were at open secret. Nick Ayers, who currently serves as Vice President of Pence's chief of staff, is pleased to announce Kelly's replacement.
As he left for Philadelphia Saturday, Trump said he would announce the new chief of staff in the "next day or two" and noted that Kelly has been with him for nearly two years. Kelly has served as the White House chief of staff since July of 201
"John Kelly wants to leave – I do not know if I retire." But he's a great guy, "Trump said on the South Lawn of the White House.
Trump has already engaged in talks with Ayers about assuming the chief of staff role, according to his advisers. In private, Trump has often commented on Kelly's lack of political skills – a potential liability from Trump's standpoint as the president's gears up for his 2020 reelection campaign and braces for an onslaught of political fights over his agenda and oversight investigations with a newly empowered Democratic- led house.
Trump has also chafed at Kelly's management style and some of his moves to instill discipline in the West Wing and contain chaos. In recent months, the chief of staff's power has been trumped by Trump's gut instincts over Kelly's processes.
For Instance, Trump and Kelly have repeatedly clashed over the fate of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, a close to Kelly ally who has drawn the president's attention for lackluster performance on immigration enforcement. Kelly had been fighting Nielsen's potential ouster from the administration, as well as his own future in the West wing remained murky.
But despite the private battles between Trump, 72, and Kelly, 68, the two men are generational peers, and Trump has long admired the retired four-star marine general's military experience.
The end of Kelly's tenure has been speculated about for months, even with his pledge to stay on through Trump's reelection campaign. Kelly's departure from the White House was imminent.
Kelly was just taking the day off. Trump and other senior white house officials .