President Donald Trump is reportedly considering replacing chief of staff John Kelly and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen as part of his post-midterm elections shake-up.
At a news conference last week, Trump indicated there would be changes coming to his cabinet only hours before announcing Attorney General Jeff Sessions was out at the Justice Department.
ABC News reported that Trump is eyeing replacing Kelly with Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
Trump is said to appreciate 36-year-old Ayers’ political acumen in relation to Kelly, particularly praising his strategy for Pence’s midterm political efforts.
“Some sources close to the president describe Ayers taking Kelly’s place as a ‘done deal’ while others caution nothing is certain until the president says so,” according to ABC News.
When the issue of Kelly’s future came up this past summer, the White House indicated that the chief of staff had accepted the president’s request to stay in his position through 2020.
NBC News reported Kelly has clashed with Melania Trump over the first lady’s request to promote members of her staff.
“There have been instances where the East Wing staff were not treated as equals to the male-dominated decision makers in Chief Kelly’s office (in the West Wing),” one White House official said.
“Promotions were denied, then finally granted after months of requests,” the official added.
Melania Trump’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, did not respond directly to the rumored conflict, but in a statement to NBC News said, “The East Wing is very focused on the first lady’s initiatives and works independently.”
“However, we do collaborate on a variety of projects and work alongside many departments within the West Wing. We have a very positive working relationship,” Grisham added.
Another area of reputed conflict is regarding the future of Nielsen, who took over as secretary of Homeland Security when Kelly came to the White House in July 2017.
According to ABC, Nielsen is expected to leave her role in the coming weeks.
In response, DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said in a statement Tuesday, “The Secretary is honored to lead the men and women of DHS and is committed to implementing the President’s security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so.”
When asked last month whether Secretary of Defense James Mattis would leave the administration after the midterm elections, Trump indicated there were no plans, but added “everybody leaves.”
“I have a very good relationship with him,” Trump told CBS News’ Lesley Stahl in an interview on “60 Minutes.”
“I had lunch with him two days ago. I have a very good relationship with him. It could be that he is (leaving).”
“I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth,” the president added. “But Gen. Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That’s Washington.”
Two days later, Mattis shot down rumors of his departure, saying of Trump, “I’m on his team.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.