Trump: Chief of Staff John Kelly 'Leaving at the End of the Year'

December 8, 2018

Just before boarding Marine One on his way to the Army-Navy football game Saturday, President Donald Trump announced his chief of staff was leaving the White House.

"John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year," Trump said. "We'll be announcing who will be taking John's place. It might be on an interim basis. I'll be announcing that over the next day or two."

Trump seemed to leave open the possibility of Kelly taking another position in the administration, although Trump did not allude to a specific job.

"John Kelly will be leaving. I don't know if I can say retiring, but he's a great guy," Trump said.

"He's been with me almost two years now as you know between the two positions, so we're probably going see him in a little while," Trump added, referring to Kelly's work both in the White House and leading the Department of Homeland Security.

It was long rumored that Trump was frustrated by Kelly's level of control over the White House and that he faced a potential ouster. Kelly outlasted many of his rivals in the White House, however, manning the ship while controversial figures who clashed with him, such as Anthony Scaramucci and Steve Bannon, were pushed out.

Kelly acted as something of a gatekeeper for the president, restricting access to the Oval Office more tightly than predecessor Reince Priebus. This reportedly created friction with Trump, his family members, and some on staff, even as administrative discipline appeared to improve. Kelly at times appeared to clash with Trump on policy, notably when he said the president had "evolved" on the border wall, prompting Trump to tweet, "The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it."

Saturday, Trump concluded his words about Kelly by commending him for his service.

"I appreciate his service very much," Trump said.

Trump also said he is "happy" with the state of Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation, following Mueller's latest court filings.

"On the Mueller situation, we're very happy with what we're reading because there was no collusion whatsoever," he said.

"I think it's all turning around very nicely," he added.

Trump also discussed the new incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who is set to replace Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford.

"General Mark Milley as you know was just appointed the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ... He's a great gentleman, he's a great patriot, he's a great soldier, and I look forward to that," Trump said.