John Kelly targeted in expanding White House shakeup

November 13, 2018

More rumblings of a post-election shakeup up emanated from the White House on Tuesday with jobs of another Cabinet secretary and the president’s chief of staff in jeopardy.

Reports that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was on the way out were quickly followed by chatter that White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly was a short-timer.

Mr. Kelly has been at odds with members of the National Security Council.

Last month, Mr. Kelly got into a heated argument outside the Oval Office with National Security Adviser John R. Bolton. That clash also involved Ms. Nielsen, according to White House sources.

Mr. Kelly, who for months has been rumored to be destined for the exit, also had run-ins with first lady Melania Trump, according to NBC News.

The disputes with the East Wing, involving staffing and travel issues, eventually reached the president.

“There have been instances where the East Wing staff were not treated as equals to the male-dominated decision makers in Chief Kelly’s office,” a White House official told the network. “Promotions were denied then finally granted after months of requests.”

A post-election shakeup was expected but it is playing out at a dizzying speed.

Mr. Trump forced out Jeff Sessions as attorney general the day after the midterm elections.

Within a week, Ms. Nielsen and Mr. Kelly were twisting in the wind.

“This is how the president works. He’s doused a bunch of people in gasoline and he’s waiting for someone to light a match,” a White House official told The Wall Street Journal, which was the first to report Mr. Kelly’s predicament.

Ms. Nielsen’s exit is likely on hold due to the absence of an obvious successor.

The timeline for Mr. Kelly’s departure also is unclear. He has been fending off reports about his deteriorating relationship with the president for months.

Trying to dispel rumors of his pending ouster, Mr. Kelly in July told a staff meeting that Mr. Trump asked him to stay on through 2020.

Update hourly