MORRISTOWN, NJ (AP) – President Donald Trump said Friday that he was getting on well with his embattled White House chief of staff, but did not know how long John Kelly would stay on the job.
Kelly is back This week's limelight raised the word that the president was raising allies over potential successors to the retired four-star general. Kelly is credited with bringing order to the West Wing, but also to the free-running president.
On speculation, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that "we get on very well with each other". But he added, "Look, things will happen someday, but I'll tell you … we have a very good relationship, he's a wonderful man."
When asked if Kelly would leave, the President said, "That I know John a lot, I like him and I respect him." The President spoke on his way to a weekend at his New Jersey golf club.
Two possible replacements for Kelly: Trump's Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, and Vice President Mike Pence, Nick Ayers, after two people with knowledge of Trump's thinking. The sources spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss personnel matters.
Trump often talks openly about replacing his assistants without succession, and speculation about Kelly and other aides in the past is bubbling up without action.
The White House has previously rejected the talk of impending employee rearrangements that occurred later. The White House staff's long list of recent arrivals or departures in the coming weeks includes Legislative Director Marc Short.
Kelly has told his confidants that he has no plan at present to go and has not made any formal arrangements for a person with knowledge of his thinking. But he has also told people who are close to him that he would be happy if he could make it to the one-year mark, which would mean he stays until the end of July.
The latest speculation about Kelly is coming so His role in the White House has diminished in recent months.
Trump and Kelly disintegrated when the president became angry at the retired general's attempts to enforce order. The president has increasingly followed his own advice and added more like-minded people to his staff, many of whom have direct access to the Oval Office without going through Kelly.
This list will soon include former Fox News chief Bill Shine is expected to act as deputy chief of staff for communications in the administration.
Kelly has often raved publicly that Trump's work is the hardest work he has ever had, including those on the battlefield.
Trump has discussed Kelly's replacement and any changes in personnel should be considered provisional until he executes them. Rarely does the president directly fire someone who often leaves unsuitable advisers in suspense for months.
Mulvaney told Fox Business Network on Friday that he has "heard the same rumors three times over the last 12 months". I will start to look into this issue if the President actually brings it together with me, in contrast to the meeting that has not yet taken place. "Ayers did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Trump, who asked reporters questions on his way to a weekend outing to his New Jersey golf course, said it was possible that Hope Hicks would be a top candidate and counselor to the club White House was walking in March – could one day return. "I bet Hope misses it. I think everyone misses it. "
" You exhaust a lot of people, do you understand that? Your people are exhausting a lot of people. They come full of life and vigor and strength and they are exhausted and then they get their breath, "Trump told reporters," and frankly, hope is great and so are many of the other people. Many people would like to come back. Look, there's nothing more exciting than what we do. "
Lucey reported from Washington.