The impending departure of Donald Trump’s chief of staff is setting the White House into chaos, a correspondent claims.
On Saturday, Trump confirmed reports that John Kelly would be leaving the White House before the end of the year. Kelly had long been described as a steadying force in Trump’s White House, often reining Trump in from his more damaging impulses and doing the work that Trump did not want to do — namely, firing people.
As PBS News noted, Trump announced Kelly’s departure while not tipping off whether there would be a replacement.
“John Kelly will be leaving. I don’t know if I can say retiring but he’s a great guy,” Trump said.
“John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year we’ll be announcing we take John’s place it might be on an interim basis I’ll be announcing that over the next day or two. But John will be leaving at the end of the year.”
PBS News White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor said this will be one of the most difficult departures for Trump, as Kelly had helped to maintain order in the White House that is beset with chaos as he prepares his departure.
“Well this is a White House that, while President Trump wants to say is functioning very smoothly, is actually at the scene of chaos and a lot of the times you have this continuing revolving door that spilling of people continuously leaving the White House,” Alcindor said.
“And then you have this large cloud of the Russia investigation the president is someone who is focused on it. He’s tweeting about it daily. He is frustrated with the fact that these people that he thought were loyal to him.”
Kelly’s departure came just days after reports that he had met with Robert Mueller’s team on the investigation of whether Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice. It was not clear if that played a role in his decision to leave, but there have been reports going back months pointing to an impending exit for Kelly.
As the New Yorker noted, Donald Trump frequently pushed back against the order and structure that John Kelly put in the White House, even saying that he believed he didn’t need a chief of staff at all. With the final Russia report expected anytime in the next few weeks, political experts are worried that Trump will not be able to handle the results without the discipline Kelly had imposed.
Jared & Ivanka were critical to pushing John Kelly out. Kelly said the two were “playing government” and didn’t want to follow the rules and should not have been in the White House. They’ll stay. He leaves. https://t.co/wt46oGhxzk— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) December 8, 2018
Donald Trump is expected to announce a replacement for John Kelly in the next few days. A leading candidate is Nick Ayers, who is currently serving as Mike Pence’s chief of staff.