Chief of Staff John Kelly - who was widely credited for instilling 'order' and 'discipline' during the early days of the Trump Administration before a stream of gaffes and scandals (most notably the domestic abuse scandal that led to the firing of White House Secretary Rob Porter) strained his relationship with the president - will leave the West Wing at the end of the year.
President Trump confirmed as much during a brief chat with a group of reporters on the South Lawn of the White House Saturday afternoon, according to a flurry of tweets.
Trump said he will announce Kelly's replacement "within a few days."
President Trump tells reporters on the south lawn John Kelly will be leaving the White House, per pool.— Sarah Westwood (@sarahcwestwood) December 8, 2018
The president praised John Kelly and thanked him. He said he would announce a successor within in a few days and that person may serve on an interim basis.— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) December 8, 2018
In a nod to the rumors that the two have reportedly stopped speaking in recent weeks as their relationship deteriorated, Trump said that, while Kelly will be leaving, "I don't know if I can say 'retiring'."
TRUMP per pool: "John Kelly will be leaving – I don’t know if I can say ‘retiring.’"— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) December 8, 2018
The president added that Kelly's replacement might be 'on an interim basis'.
Though rumors about Kelly's impending resignation/firing were never far from the headlines, the chief of staff had managed to endure through several scandals and reported 'rough patches' in his relationship with President Trump. But when multiple media outlets reported this week that Kelly would be the next major administration figure to leave, the anonymous sources quoted in those articles insisted that, this time, things were different.
The word on the street is that Trump has already selected Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, to take over for Kelly. Kelly, a former Marine general, served as head of the Department of Homeland Security before moving to the West Wing during the summer of June 2017 after Trump fired his first chief of staff, Reince Priebus.