WASHINGTON — In a bombshell announcement capping a week of brutal administration infighting, President Trump said Friday that he had replaced embattled White House chief of staff Reince Priebus with Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.
Trump, who announced the move on Twitter, did not say whether he had fired Priebus or whether he had resigned, but the former Republican National Committee chairman told Yahoo News via text that he had tendered his resignation to the president on Thursday.
“I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American…” the president wrote, continuing in a second tweet with “…and a Great Leader. John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my Administration.”
When asked by Yahoo News if he was aware of the staff shakeup prior to Trump’s Twitter announcement, Priebus texted, “Yeah, we talked. I resigned privately yesterday.” He later repeated in two televised interviews that he had resigned in a private meeting with the president on Thursday.
I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
Incoming White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump and Priebus had begun discussing the exit “about two weeks ago.” She did not directly answer whether it was a firing or a resignation. “We all serve at the pleasure of the president,” Sanders told reporters.
In just over six months in office, Trump has shed his first national security adviser (Michael Flynn), communications director (Mike Dubke), press secretary (Sean Spicer), deputy chief of staff (Katie Walsh), deputy national security adviser (K.T. McFarland) and now his chief of staff. His attorney general, Republican former senator Jeff Sessions, has been in an increasingly tenuous…