The Slatest

John Kelly Will Leave White House by End of the Year, Trump Says

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly attends a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on October 17, 2018.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly attends a cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on October 17, 2018.
SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

It was already seen as a done deal but President Donald Trump made it official Saturday. John Kelly, the retired Marine general, will be leaving his job as chief of staff by the end of the year. It marks the biggest name in the broad White House shakeup following the Republican losses in the midterm elections. “John Kelly will be leaving—I don’t know if I can say ‘retiring’,” Trump told reporters Saturday. “But he’s a great guy. John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year.”

Trump isn’t saying yet who will be taking Kelly’s place, but vowed to make an announcement over the next day or two. “We will be announcing who will be taking John’s place, it may be on an interim basis, in the next day or two,” Trump said. “I appreciate his service very much.” Trump’s second chief of staff in two years came into office in mid-2017 to replace former Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus. At the time Trump widely praised Kelly, who was credited with bringing order to a chaotic White House, but his star began to dim quickly as Trump began to sideline him more and more. Kelly has often joked that working for Trump was harder than anything he had to do on the battlefield.

The man who is seen as most likely to replace Kelly is Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff. In fact, before the announcemnt was made the Associated Press reported that Trump has started telling people to contact the 36-year-old Ayers. “Give Nick a call,” Trump has allegedly been telling people.

Trump’s announcement comes a day after he said he would nominate William Barr as attorney general. Trump also said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert would take over for Nikki Haley as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Earlier on Saturday, Trump said he will nominate four-star General Mark Milley as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.