After days of speculation that chief of staff John Kelly would be leaving the White House, President Donald Trump confirmed these rumors on Saturday, December 8, BuzzFeed News is reporting.
“John Kelly will be leaving toward the end of the year,” Trump said to reporters. He also referred to Kelly as a “great guy” despite reports that the two have been cold with each other lately. Trump said he will be announcing Kelly’s replacement within the next few days.
Kelly has been chief of staff since last July and once told White House staff that he would maintain the position until the end of the 2020 presidential election. He also told staffers that Trump wanted him to stay on even longer than that. However, rumor has it that Kelly hasn’t been in the president’s good graces lately, and a source says they’re surprised that Kelly has even managed to stay in his position as long as he did. Kelly has been said to butt heads with both National Security Adviser John Bolton and First Lady Melania Trump. Kelly and Bolton even shouted at each other outside of the Oval Office while fighting about immigration in October.
Unknown staff members told the press that Kelly has referred to President Trump as an “idiot” multiple times, as well as described Trump to Congress members as “uninformed.” Trump was also reportedly frustrated with Kelly for having lied multiple times, once in regards to staff secretary Rob Porter’s situation. Porter was accused of physical and emotional abuse by two of his ex-wives, and Kelly stated that he kicked Porter out of the White House within 40 minutes of hearing the news. Multiple sources and even official White House statements conflict with his story, with many people saying this did not happen and that Kelly was even encouraging Porter to stay.
In addition to the Porter scandal, he also told reporters that Democratic congresswoman Frederica Wilson had boasted about securing funding for an FBI building — a claim that was later proven false via footage. Another crack in Kelly’s relationship with Trump occurred when Kelly pushed a new security protocol in February. The protocol refused top clearance for White House officials who have had long-running background checks, resulting in Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, losing his top-level security clearance. This problem was not resolved until May, and Trump’s family was said to have taken issue with him ever since.
Kelly’s resignation marks another loss of a staffer in Trump’s administration.