US president's top aide tempers speculation of his imminent departure
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Washington: Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly has tempered speculation about his future, telling the president he will stay on through 2020, a White House official said Tuesday.
Kelly’s commitment to remain in the critical post through the end of Trump’s first term comes one year and a day after he took the job – and amid swirling rumours about his imminent departure.
The retired US Marine Corps general was picked as Trump’s chief of staff in mid-2017 to bring a sense of order and discipline to a chaotic White House, and to wall Trump off from aides who had felt increasingly free to approach the president with plans that had not been properly vetted.
But in recent months, Kelly’s role as gatekeeper appears to have eroded, and his power in the White House marginalized.
Expectations about an impending Kelly exit built up last month to the point that a reporter asked Trump about whether his chief of staff would soon be gone.
“That I don’t know,” the president said on June 29. “Look, at some point, things happen but I will tell you... we have a very good relationship.”
Trump’s ties with Kelly have been rocky. In June, The New York Times reported that Kelly was considering leaving, and told a group of visiting senators that the White House was “a miserable place to work.”
But on Monday, the president tweeted his congratulations to Kelly for marking a full year as chief of staff. The tweet included a photograph of the two men smiling broadly.
Kelly, 68, was heading the Department of Homeland Security last year when Trump picked him to replace Reince Priebus as chief of staff.