Priebus is Out as White House Chief of Staff

by Alan Pyke –

Homeland Security secretary John Kelly will replace the out-of-favor establishment Republican.

Reince Priebus will be replaced as White House Chief of Staff, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter late Friday.

The former Republican National Committee chairman, widely seen as a moderating influence on an erratic chief executive, is out just over six months after the administration took their seats.

Trump’s senior staff have been at each other’s throats almost since Inauguration Day, according to waves of insider reports. Priebus and senior advisers Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner have found themselves at odds repeatedly as they sought to sway the president on messaging, policy priorities, and legislative tactics during a half-year in which Republicans have repeatedly failed to repeal Obamacare, break ground on a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and fulfill other signature Trump promises.

His firing comes barely a day after Trump’s other newest hire, communications director Anthony Scaramucci, openly accused Priebus of leaking documents to the press to embarrass his own boss and colleagues. (The document Scaramucci cited was publicly available and obtained by a reporter who called and asked for it.)

Priebus will give way to Gen. John Kelly, currently Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security. White House reporters say Priebus had resigned privately on Thursday but hoped to stay on another day or two, and that Trump’s decision to dismiss him on Twitter came after staff urged him to move faster.

In his DHS tenure, Kelly has been Trump’s strongman on immigration enforcement work. His agents have deported Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigrants like Juan Manuel Montes, set up shop outside courthouses to detain people they suspect of being undocumented immigrants, and established a new office at Trump’s direction to publish frequent reports about crimes allegedly perpetrated by undocumented individuals.

Kelly’s elevation to the White House senior staff accelerates Trump’s pattern of leaning on military officials in traditionally civilian roles. It also creates a cabinet vacancy at a time when the president has been openly warring with another cabinet secretary, prompting several prominent Republicans and conservatives to warn Trump against firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Kelly’s old agency will be led by Elaine Duke until Trump moves to replace the general atop DHS — something he won’t be able to do until the fall, with the Senate acting to prevent recess appointments during the August break. Duke has previously served the administrations of presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

White House pool reporters noted a theatrical scene surrounding Priebus’ physical exit from Trump’s team. As Air Force One returned from New York, Priebus got into a motorcade car that then departed separately from the president’s train of vehicles while Trump remained on the plane.


Reprinted with permission from Think Progress