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Donald Trump

Trump fires Reince Priebus as chief of staff in White House shake-up

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 July, 2017, 5:13am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 July, 2017, 5:57am

US President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Friday he has named Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as White House chief of staff, replacing Reince Priebus, who has been in a feud with Trump’s new communications director.

Kelly’s Department of Homeland Security is responsible for enforcing border security and has taken a tough line on immigrants inside the United States.

The announcement comes after a week of conflict between Priebus and Trump’s newly appointed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who had accused the chief of staff of leaking damaging information about him.

Priebus, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, had been named to the post in part to bring political experience to the Trump White House. But he clashed with Scaramucci and had been under siege by Trump advisers inside and outside of the White House who complained that he was ineffectual.

After Scaramucci was named communications director last week against Priebus’ vehement objections, White House officials widely believed that Priebus’s position had become more imperilled. On Friday, as Trump travelled to New York, he took both Scaramucci and Priebus on Air Force One with him.

Asked to comment on the changes, Trump told reporters travelling with him on Air Force One that Priebus is a “good man,” and that Kelly is “respected by everybody.”

Kelly has formed a bond with the president over recent months that was fortified when he aggressively defended the travel ban policy and has only grown stronger since then, with Trump telling aides that he sees Kelly as someone who dutifully follows through on his agenda and does not ever cause him problems, according to two White House officials.

One outside Trump adviser said that the president is drawn to the discipline that Kelly and his other advisers who are former military officers bring to their roles.

Kelly has a warm rapport with White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, who has worked closely with him on shaping the administration’s border enforcement policy. They have built a connection over their families’ military service. Bannon, a former Navy officer, has a daughter who graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point.

Kelly is also well liked by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who sees him as a stable presence with a low key personality.

Kushner has described him to associates as the kind of figure he’d like to see have more say in the administration.

Kelly’s reputation and ability to work with both wings of a warring West Wing made the decision easier for Trump, the officials said.