Trump confirms John Kelly leaving White House at end of year

The president will be moving on to his third chief of staff

Trump confirms John Kelly leaving White House at end of year
Pres. Donald Trump said Saturday Kelly is on the way out. Trump described Kelly as a "great guy." (Source: AP)

(RNN) - President Donald Trump said John Kelly, the White House Chief of Staff, will be leaving at the end of the year.

The departure is the latest among the president’s inner circle.

Kelly, a retired Marine general, replaced Reince Priebus in that position in July 2017.

“John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year,” Trump said. “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."

Trump made the announcement to reporters Saturday before boarding Air Force One to attend the annual Army-Navy game.

Sources also told CNN that Kelly was expected to leave the position in the coming days.

He and the president had not been seeing eye to eye, according to multiple reports.

Kelly was interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller, CNN reported.

“The Mueller questions to Kelly centered on a narrow set of issues in the investigation of potential obstruction of justice, chiefly Kelly’s recollection of an episode that took place after new reporting emerged about how the President had tried to fire Mueller,” according to CNN.

Kelly rattled the White House status quo, and in particular the standing of Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, with his overhaul of security clearance standards.

Like many other administration officials, he’s been regularly rumored to be under fire in the White House. Reports of his falling out with Trump came despite the president asking him during the summer to stay on until 2020.

Kelly took over as chief of staff with a mandate to instill order and professionalism in a largely inexperienced White House staff beset by disorganization in the early days of the Trump presidency.

By many accounts he achieved that, formalizing the process by which Trump saw advisers and spoke to staff, and eventually reshuffling the West Wing pecking order, notably scaling back Kushner’s influence and ushering the departure of Steve Bannon in August 2017.

He was first drafted into the Trump administration as Secretary of Homeland Security. He served fewer than 200 days in the role before Trump tabbed him to replace Priebus.

Prior to his civilian positions in the government, Kelly was commander of U.S. Southern Command during the Obama presidency. He held the post, responsible for overseeing operations in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean, from 2012 until his retirement as a four-star Marine general in 2016.

Before that his service included a stint under then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta from 2011-12; and he commanded Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North from 2009-11. He fought in Iraq during deployments from 2002-04 and later returned there in a command role in 2008.

In 2010 Kelly's son, Robert, was killed in action in Afghanistan.

Kelly enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1970 and served two years before going to the University of Massachusetts. He graduated in 1976 and was soon after commissioned as an officer.

He was born in May 1950 in Boston, MA, and grew up in the city’s Brighton neighborhood. He has been married since 1976, and the couple have two surviving children, including another Marine, John.

Trump also announced another staff shakeup earlier in the day.

He said via Twitter, he will nominate Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley as his next top military adviser.

“I am pleased to announce my nomination of four-star General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the United States Army – as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replacing General Joe Dunford, who will be retiring,” Trump said in the tweet.

“I am thankful to both of these incredible men for their service to our Country! Date of transition to be determined,” the president said in a following tweet.

If approved by the Senate, Milley, a four-star general, would succeed Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Dunford’s second term will end the summer of 2019. He is the 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Prior to serving as the nation’s top military officer, Dunford served as the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

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