US President Donald Trump announced Saturday that the White House chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly , will be leaving his position at the end of this year, after months of friction between the two.
“John Kelly will be leaving toward the end of the year,” Trump said in a statement to reporters at the White House.
Trump described Kelly as “a great guy” and said “I appreciate his service very much,” a reference to the general’s last year and a half directing White House staff.
“We’ll be announcing who will be taking John’s place, it might be on an interim basis. I’ll be announcing that over the next day or two,” the president added.
US media had rumored over the past few hours about Kelly’s probable resignation, while the CNN news channel reported that lately he hasn’t even spoken to Trump.
Kelly, a retired general who was Trump’s first national security secretary, was designated chief of staff in July 2017 with the mission of imposing discipline on a White House marked by chaos and power struggles.
The Marine veteran acknowledged three months later that his work in the White House was the hardest job he ever had, and rumors soon began fly about his bad relations with Trump.
The president appeared to be particularly annoyed last January when Kelly said that Trump was not “fully informed” when making certain promises in his 2016 campaign, especially about building a wall along the Mexican border.
The name mentioned most often as Kelly’s replacement is Nick Ayers, chief of staff of US Vice President Mike Pence, with whom Trump has discussed the matter, according to the daily The Washington Post.
Kelly’s departure could endanger the position of US National Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, seen as the protegee of the general and who has often been criticized by Trump for not being tough enough on immigration matters.