White House Chief of Staff John Kelly Will Be Out By the End of the Year, According to Trump

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will be leaving his post at the end of the year, according to President Trump, who announced Kelly’s departure to reporters on Saturday.

Trump did not announce a replacement for Kelly, but said he planned to “in the next day or so.” The president added that the replacement might be on an interim basis, ABC News reports.

“John Kelly will be leaving, I don’t know if I can say retiring. But he’s a great guy,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House.

Trump, who has often announced the departure of other members of the White House over a tweet, gave Kelly more of a graceful exit, noting that Kelly has served two important roles in the Trump administration: Department of Homeland Security Secretary and White House Chief of Staff.

“I appreciate his service very much,” Trump said.

Rumors of Kelly’s departure have been circulating for over a year, amid reports that there has been tension between Trump and his chief of staff.

Just a few months ago, Trump had asked Kelly to stay on through his 2020 re-election campaign, and Kelly agreed, White House officials told ABC News. But Kelly had voiced his interest in staying on for far longer -- through 2024 if the president was re-elected.

However, according to a Wall Street Journal report back in June, Trump had consulted his advisers about a replacement for Kelly. Media reports also claimed that Kelly was becoming increasingly aggravated with the president, The Huffington Post reports.  

Kelly had reportedly once told someone that he didn’t care about what Trump did or if it lead to his impeachment, because then “at least this chapter of American history would come to a close,” according to Politico.

Kelly, who replaced Reince Priebus as chief of staff in July 2017, sought to impose order and discipline in the West Wing, and had a tougher relationship with Trump than his predecessor did. He placed more restrictions on who could reach the president and required all White House staffers to report to him.  

Vanity Fair reported in 2017 that Kelly’s discipline put a strain on his relationship with Trump, and an unnamed source said the two men were “fighting a lot.”

Kelly had also faced intense scrutiny back in February and March over his response to former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter’s resignation after Porter was accused of domestic abuse by both of his ex-wives. He had initially defended Porter as “a man of true integrity and honor,” but after photos of Porter’s ex-wife with a black eye became public, Kelly said he was “shocked” but would “stand by” his earlier comments.

But according to CNN, Kelly had known about the domestic abuse allegations, and FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the FBI had given a preliminary report to the White House nearly a year before.

Kelly had shouldered most of the blame for the whole incident, HuffPost reports.

As Kelly departs the White House, sources have told ABC News that it appears Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, is the leading candidate to fill Kelly’s spot. Ayers is seen by Trump as a prominent advocate for his administration’s policies and a loyalist, which, in the past, has seemed to be very important to the president.