John Kelly is expected to resign as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff in the next few days as the relationship between the two is no longer seen as “sustainable,” two sources told CNN Friday morning. Sources with knowledge of the inner workings of the West Wing told the network that Trump and Kelly have recently stopped speaking.
White House sources told CNN that Kelly and Trump have reached a stalemate in their relationship, with both parties agreeing that it is no longer viable. While Trump is still considering his options, CNN reports that the leading contender to fill the position is Nick Ayers, the chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence.
According to the report, as the president has been bypassing several of the policies and protocols Kelly put in place when he entered the West Wing last year, the retired Marine Corps general has seen his status as chief of staff diminished in recent months.
In July, Trump discussed the possibility of having Kelly stay on until 2024, though Kelly agreed to stay only until 2020 to see through the remainder of the president’s first term, according to a previous CNN report. The July announcement came amid a swirl of rumors about Kelly’s seemingly imminent departure. The occasion also marked Kelly’s first anniversary as Trump’s chief of staff.
According to Boston 25 News, Kelly has reportedly clashed with several members of the administration, including national security adviser John Bolton, the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. The tension between Bolton and Kelly became public earlier this year when the Washington Post reported that Kelly stormed out of the White House after getting into a shouting match with Bolton over immigration.
Former FBI Director James Comey said in his book A Higher Loyalty that Kelly wanted to quit to protest Trump’s decision to fire Comey in May 2017, but he convinced Kelly not to quit, according to the Boston 25 News report.
In addition, Kelly reportedly called Trump “an idiot” who he needed those around him to “save him from himself” during a tense meeting on immigration, NBC News reported in May. Kelly later denied making such a statement and claimed he and the president had “an incredibly candid and strong relationship,” the report quoted him as saying.
As Axios noted, the staffing issues that have plagued the Trump administration will continue to pose a challenge as the Democrats are about to take control of the House, which will impose massive new demands on the West Wing.