WASHINGTON – Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly may need to find and strap on some armor.
The battle-hardened, outspoken commander’s new mission is to steady the roiling Trump administration — and quiet the friendly fire — as White House chief of staff.
“He has been a true star of my administration,” the president tweeted Friday, announcing that his current secretary of homeland security was in, and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was out. Trump called Kelly a “great leader” and “great American.” He called Priebus a “good man.”
If loyalty is indeed what Trump wants, he gets it in Kelly. He also gets a veteran of three tours in Iraq and a survivor of a family tragedy.
As Homeland Security secretary, Kelly has taken the lead on some of Trump’s most controversial policies, including his executive orders suspending the admission of refugees and temporarily barring visitors from several Muslim-majority nations. Those orders have been stripped down by courts pending a Supreme Court review this fall.
People who know Kelly told The Associated Press that he was not aware of the details of the initial orders until around the time that Trump signed it. Yet, just days after taking office, he had to lead the agency as it dealt with the chaos and confusion that ensued at airports in the U.S. and around the world. He defended the orders to reporters and lawmakers and insisted he indeed had been part of the decision-making process.