This isn’t the first time that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has reportedly been on the verge of resigning (or being fired), only to bounce back from the abyss (in fact, it’s probably closer to the 10th). But with weeks to go before the Trump administration’s second birthday – and prophecies about another cabinet reshuffle having so far gone unfulfilled – reports that the Chief of Staff will resign during the coming days are once again gaining traction.
According to Axios, Kelly is expected to resign during the coming days as his relationship with the president has reached an “impasse.” CNN, which was one of the first movers in what turned into a wave of confirmations, cited two senior West Wing officials in a report that the relationship between the two men had seriously deteriorated. Kelly is expected to be replaced by Nick Ayers, Mike Pence’s chief of staff, who has long been rumored to be a stalking horse for the White House chief of staff job. Crucially, Ayers has the support of Jared and Ivanka, who have reportedly clashed with Kelly since the former Marine general first arrived in the West Wing seventeen months ago. However, CNN cautioned that “nothing is final right now.”
Trump is actively discussing a replacement plan, though a person involved in the process said nothing is final right now and ultimately it is up to Trump. Potential replacements include Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, who is still seen as a leading contender.
News of Kelly’s imminent departure was first reported by Axios.
Kelly has seen his status as chief of staff diminished in recent months, with the President circumventing many of the policies and protocols the retired Marine Corps general put in place when he entered the West Wing last year.
In July, Kelly announced to White House staff that Trump had asked him to stay on as chief of staff until at least 2020, and that he had agreed.
CNN reported last month that Trump was considering potential replacements for several senior positions in his administration as part of a post-midterms staff shakeup.
Bolstering the speculation that Kelly’s tenure within the administration has finally reached its conclusion, ABC’s lead White House reporter says this morning’s West Wing staff meeting has been cancelled.
I am told this morning’s White House senior staff meeting, which would have been led by John Kelly, has been cancelled.
— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) December 7, 2018
CNN’s Jim Sciutto added that Trump and Kelly have reportedly “stopped speaking” in recent days.
Breaking: WH Chief of Staff John Kelly is expected to resign in the coming days. President Trump and Kelly have reached a stalemate in their relationship & have stopped speaking in recent days – @kaitlancollins reporting
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) December 7, 2018
Kelly’s departure could spell the end for other senior Trump administration officials whom he has reportedly protected from Trump’s rages – most notably Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
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