John F. Kelly, US President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, will leave the job by the end of the year, Trump said on Saturday.
Trump confirmed Kelly’s planned departure to reporters on the White House lawn before departing for the traditional Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.
“He’s a great guy,” the president said. “I appreciate his service very much.”
A replacement for Kelly, a 68-year-old former Marine general who became Trump’s second chief of staff in July 2017, will be announced shortly, Trump added.
The departure casts light on Trump’s ever-dwindling team of senior advisors at a time when the White House will need to revise efforts to move its agenda through Congress, where Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives in January.
Rumours of Kelly’s departure had swirled for more than a year amid persistent reports of tensions between Trump and his chief of staff, HuffPost US reported.
The Wall Street Journal reported in late June that Trump had consulted his advisers on a replacement, sources familiar with the matter said. A flurry of media reports in April claimed that Kelly had grown increasingly frustrated with the president.
According to Politico, Kelly once told at least one person that he doesn’t care what Trump does that might lead to his impeachment, because then “at least this chapter of American history would come to a close.”
On Friday, reports said Kelly had stopped communicating with Trump as relations between the pair strained further.