John Kelly plans to remain as White House chief of staff through President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, two White House officials confirmed Tuesday, quieting speculation that Kelly was nearing the exits because of tensions with the president over his strict management style.
Kelly, who on Monday celebrated his first anniversary as chief of staff, told West Wing staff that day that he will be staying in his post at Trump’s request through the remainder of the president’s first term, said the officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly.
Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, has had a rocky tenure at Trump’s side, where he has tried to instill discipline but found it impossible to contain the chaos often created by the president whose life has been guided by gut instincts.
Kelly had been widely expected by many Trump associates to leave his job this summer, either because he had tired of the intense post or the president had tired of him – or both. But his announcement this week, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, ends for now what had become rampant chatter in Washington, D.C., about Kelly’s fate.
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, reacted to Kelly’s announcement by writing in an email, “Hail to the Chief.”
“His leadership has made a difference: the team is tighter and the process more streamlined and sophisticated,” Conway added. “The fact that he is not super-glued to the President’s side is a sign of progress and evolution, even as he spends as much time with the President as anyone. General Kelly is in his fifth decade of public service, and commands respect on Capitol Hill, in the West Wing, among Cabinet members and from the President.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Philip Rucker, Robert Costa