Update: As speculation abounds over social media over precisely when Reince was fired or quit, he has just released the following statement:
"It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve the President and our country. I want to thank the President for giving me this very special opportunity. I will continue to serve as a strong supporter of the President's agenda and policies. I can't think of a better person that General John Kelly to succeed me and I him God's blessings and great success."
NEW: "It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve this president and our country," former chief of staff Reince Priebus says. pic.twitter.com/Dj0y777VDc— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 28, 2017
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After Thursday's bizarre, widely publicized breakdown by Anthony Scaramucci, Trump had no choice: he had to pick either the former SkyBridge founder or his Chief of Staff, Reince "paranoid schizophrenic" Priebus.
Moments ago Trump made his decision - Priebus has been fired, replaced by retired four-star Marine general John Kelly, and current Homeland Security head, John Kelly who Trump frequently credits for dramatically reducing the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the U.S. from Mexico. He called Kelly "a true star" in a tweet announcing the appointment.
Trump tweeted: "I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. 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."
I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
...and a Great Leader. John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my Administration— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
Trump announced the decision on Twitter as his plane landed at Andrews. Trump also tweeted his token thanks to Priebus "for his service and dedication to his country" saying "we accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!."
I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to his country. We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
The circumstances of Priebus' exit were curious. The now former Chief of Staff parted ways with Trump on the tarmac outside of Air Force One Friday following the announcement he would no longer serve as President Trump's chief of staff. Priebus was returning with Trump and other White House staff from an event in Long Island, New York, the Hill reported. Upon their return to Andrews Air Force Base, Trump made the announcement Priebus was out of the top White House position.
In a rain-soaked Washington, D.C., Priebus had initially gotten into a van with White House Policy Adviser Stephen Miller and White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino on the tarmac, but shortly after, the two men left the van and left Priebus alone, according to a White House press pool report.
The former chief of staff's car then peeled away from the president's motorcade and left while Trump remained on Air Force One.
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Also according to press reports the final straw for Reince Priebus was the overnight failure by Senate republicans to pass Obamacare repeal as a result of John McCain's stunning decision to vote against the GOP.
Then again, NBC reports that it wasn't Trump who fired Priebus, but Priebus who resigned on Thursday. And just to make things even more convoluted, Reuters also reports that Trump originally informed Priebus two weeks ago that he would be replacing him as White House chief of staff.
Assuming Priebus was indeed fired first, that would mark the11th time Trump has told someone "you're fired" since the election. The list, in chronological order, includes:
In any case, speaking to reporters, Trump called Priebus a "good man" but called Kelly a "star."
"Reince is a good man," he said at Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington, D.C., after a trip to New York to talk about his push to end gang violence. "John Kelly will do a fantastic job. Gen. Kelly has been a star, done an incredible job thus far, respected by everybody. He's a great American," he said.
WaPo's Robert Kosta tweets that "Kushner's allies soured on Priebus b/c they saw the msg/strategy on Russia as off/weak..."
How Trump's decision will be greeted by the more moderate part of his base remains to be seen, although with Trump siding against Priebus, it may mean that Bannon could be next on the chopping block, a move which would infuriate a core part of Trump's electorate, a material gamble for a president with a precarious approval rating.
As for ret. Gen. John Kelly, the current low profile Homeland Security Secretary, a quick reminder who he is: he he was in the military for 45 years - a very long time, even for a general. He was once the head of US Southern Command, putting much of the US' immediate vicinity under his purview - including the control of Guantanamo Bay.
Here Kosta adds that "Kushner and Bannon both really like Kelly, which made the decision easier. Someone who has appeal to the two main blocs in WH..."
His full bio is below.
General Kelly was born and raised in Boston, MA. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1970, and was discharged as a sergeant in 1972, after serving in an infantry company with the 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, NC. Following graduation from the University of Massachusetts in 1976, he was commissioned and returned to the 2nd Marine Division where he served as a rifle and weapons platoon commander, company executive officer, assistant operations officer, and infantry company commander. Sea duty in Mayport, FL, followed, at which time he served aboard aircraft carriers USS Forrestal and USS Independence. In 1980, then Captain Kelly transferred to the U.S. Army's Infantry Officer Advanced Course in Fort Benning, GA. After graduation, he was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, DC, serving there from 1981 through 1984, as an assignment monitor. Captain Kelly returned to the 2nd Marine Division in 1984, to command a rifle and weapons company. Promoted to the rank of Major in 1987, he served as the battalion's operations officer.
In 1987, Major Kelly transferred to the Basic School, Quantico, VA, serving first as the head of the Offensive Tactics Section, Tactics Group, and later assuming the duties of the Director of the Infantry Officer Course. After three years of instructing young officers, he attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the School for Advanced Warfare, both located at Quantico. Completing duty under instruction and selected for Lieutenant Colonel, he was assigned as Commanding Officer, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, CA. Holding this command position for two years, Lieutenant Colonel Kelly returned to the East Coast in 1994, to attend the National War College inWashington, DC. He graduated in 1995, and was selected to serve as the Commandant's Liaison Officer to the U.S. House of Representatives, Capitol Hill, where he was promoted to the rank of Colonel.
In 1999, Colonel Kelly transferred to joint duty and served as the Special Assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, in Mons, Belgium. He returned to the United States in 2001, and was assigned to a third tour of duty at Camp Lejeune, now as the Assistant Chief of Staff G-3 with the 2nd Marine Division. In 2002, selected to the rank of Brigadier General, Colonel Kelly again served with the 1st Marine Division, this time as the Assistant Division Commander. Much of Brigadier General Kelly's two-year assignment was spent deployed in Iraq. He then returned to Headquarters Marine Corps as the Legislative Assistant to the Commandant from 2004 to 2007. Promoted to major general, he returned to Camp Pendleton as the Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). The command deployed to Iraq in early 2008 for a year-long mission, replacing II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) as Multinational Force-West in Al Anbar and western Ninewa provinces. LtGen Kelly commanded Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North from October 2009 to March 2011. General Kelly comes to United States Southern Command from his previous position as the Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense from March 2011 to October 2012.
What happens next is a great unknown for this rollercoaster administration, but with a military veteran now whispering in Trump's ear every day, Kim Jong-Un's days are now numbered.
Meanwhile, the message from today's events seems to be that Trump has largely cut most - if not all - ties with the Republican party.