Washington, July 29 (IANS) Reince Priebus, the White House Chief of Staff who failed to impose order on a chaos-racked West Wing, was pushed out after a stormy six-month tenure and President Donald Trump replaced him with John F. Kelly, the Homeland Security Secretary and a retired four-star Marine general.
Trump announced the change via Twitter while aboard Air Force One on a tarmac outside Washington minutes after returning from Long Island on Friday, the New York Times reported.
“I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F. Kelly as White House Chief of Staff,” Trump tweeted. “He is a great American… and a great leader. John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my administration.”
Trump also thanked Priebus for his service. “We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!”
Priebus had been a frequent target of rumours about his job security amid infighting and confusion within the White House. He said he had tendered his resignation to the President on Thursday, the same day the newly-appointed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci was quoted vowing to force the Chief of Staff out.
Priebus was also subjected to profane public rebuke by Scaramucci.
Kelly will take over the corner office in the West Wing on Monday and will participate in a meeting of Trump’s Cabinet, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“The President wanted to go a different direction,” Priebus told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” on Friday evening. “A President has a right to hit a reset button. I think it’s a good time to hit the reset button.”
Priebus expressed no bitterness about his removal. “I’m always going to be a Trump fan,” he said. “I’m on Team Trump, and I look forward to helping him achieve his goals and his agenda for the American people.”
The CNN report said that Priebus lacked strong support from key members of Trump’s inner circle. Trump’s family, including daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, had lost faith in Priebus.
On Kelly’s appointment, Priebus said: “I think General (John) Kelly is a brilliant pick. “We’ll be working on a transition here for a couple weeks together with General Kelly… So this is not like a situation where there are a bunch of ill will feelings.”
Kelly will be the first current or former general to serve as White House Chief of Staff since Alexander M. Haig in the final stretch of former President Richard M. Nixon’s administration.
A Marine, Kelly served in the military for nearly five decades and served in positions, including Chief of Southern Command and senior Assistant to the Secretary of Defence. He also worked as a legislative liaison to Congress and served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. His son, Robert Michael Kelly, was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2010.