Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018
Business

Trump announces changes to cabinet, White House chief of staff may soon be gone

President Trump hastened Friday the long-awaited reshuffle of his government following the mid-term elections, naming a new choice for the attorney general and UN ambassador, while many rumors suggested that the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, may soon leave. .

Trump confirmed his choice of William P. Barr as head of the Department of Justice and Heather Nauert as UN Secretary-General, as he left the White House, addressing reporters in front of the din Marine One wheezing blades.

If confirmed by the Senate, Barr will replace acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker. Trump, a free man, installed him in place of the shattered Jeff Sessions less than 24 hours after the polls closed on November 6, as part of the first reorganization of cabinet secretaries and key collaborators of the White House.

After a CNN report on Friday morning that Kelly may be withdrawing here a few days ago, Trump did not pause to answer reporters' questions, although he did so. notice that he would make another important announcement regarding his staff on Saturday during the army-navy match in Philadelphia.

"I can give you a little clue: it will be the chief of staff and the next generation," Trump said.

Kelly was not at work on Friday morning, although one ally said that he was just taking a day off and that he would be going to the White House for a staff dinner. Friday night. The lights were off in his west wing office.

He was not asked to resign, said this person, asking to remain anonymous to speak frankly about a staff case.

Among the leaders of the White House, however, there is a broad consensus that his days as chief of staff are numbered.

A senior administration official said Friday it was clear that Kelly would leave, but he was not sure that the departure was imminent, according to CNN. The official requested anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject.

Trump has begun talks with Nick Ayers, the vice president's chief of staff, about taking office, advisers said. The president often points out Kelly's lack of political skills and told councilors in recent days that he needed a chief of staff for re-election. Ayers, a slender and ambitious Georgian agent, is a perfect fit, councilors said.

But the story of Kelly's departure has been going on for so many months that White House assistants often just shrug their shoulders.

"Of course, Trump says he wants to see him go, and Kelly swears and leaves and says he will not come back. But then he comes back, "said a former senior administration official, who requested anonymity to offer a candid assessment.

Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, has been the president's main assistant since the end of July 2017. Trump has rubbed against Kelly's management style and has resisted some of his attempts to inculcate discipline in the world. west wing and contain chaos. In recent months, the power of the chief of staff has diminished as the policies and decisions of the administration are guided more by the president's instinct than by Kelly's processes.

Washington has been swamped by rumors about Kelly's status in the work that has plagued at various times during her 16-month tenure. But last summer, Kelly tried to dispel the rumors that he was close to existence because of tensions with Trump by informing senior executives of his intention to remain chief of staff during the 2020 re-election campaign of Trump.

Trump and Kelly sometimes quarreled privately and complained to each other about confidants, sometimes in colorful language. But the two men are peers of generations who respect each other and they have united to share their common ideology, particularly with respect to immigration, and their mutual grievances with the media and the political class.

Trump has long admired Kelly for his military worth, but his lack of political experience and his interest in the campaign strategy have made him flawed. He leads the staff of a president who lives and breathes politics. As Trump prepares for his re-election campaign for 2020, some advisers advised him to replace Kelly with a more active agent, able to steer the administration through the upcoming daily political and hourly struggles.

Trump has only praise for the two new cabinet members that he announced Friday for a Senate appointment.

He told reporters that Barr, who ran the Justice Department under former President George HW Bush, was "my first choice since the first day" and he is "a great man, a great man, a man. bright ".

Nauert, 48, joined the state department last year without any government experience after an anchor and correspondent career at Fox News.

"She is very talented, very smart, very fast and I think she will be respected by all," Trump said.

John.Wagner@washpost.com

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