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President Trump: 'Stop Calling' John Kelly 'for Anything'

The chief of staff is finally departing
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2018 10:53 AM CST
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly attends a ceremony at the Aisne Marne American Cemetery near the Belleau Wood battleground, in Belleau, France, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

(Newser) – It's official: John Kelly is leaving the White House. "John Kelly will be leaving toward the end of the year," said President Trump while heading out for the Army-Navy game Saturday, USA Today reports. Rumors had been swirling after White House sources said Kelly was on his way out—and Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence's most senior aide, might be taking his place, per the Wall Street Journal. "Stop calling John [Kelly] for anything," President Trump was quoted as saying. "Call Nick. He's my guy." But Trump aides warned that Ayers was more a Pence advocate, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly criticized Ayers' foreign-policy skills. On the plus side, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner—who have bristled under Kelly's command-and-control style as chief of staff—are said to be pro-Ayers.

Kelly repeatedly clashed with Trump and lost some West Wing authority during his 17-month tenure, per CNN. A former Marine Corps general, Kelly imposed discipline on a freewheeling White House but saw Trump work around his who-gets-to-see-Trump-when rules. Kelly also made his own problems, erupting in a profanity-laced exchange with national security adviser John Bolton, engaging in a "near brawl" with informal Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski, slamming Rep. Frederica Wilson with false information, and apparently mishandling the abuse scandal around ex-staff secretary Rob Porter. Kelly also denied reports that he'd called Trump "an idiot" and considered himself "the lone bulwark against catastrophe" in Trump's White House. Trump called Kelly "a great guy" in announcing his departure. (Read more John Kelly stories.)

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