Thursday 21 November 2019

Donald Trump has a new chief of staff: Who is John Kelly?

The military commander will be taking over from Reince Priebus.

(Alex Brandon/AP)
(Alex Brandon/AP)

By Prudence Wade

Reince Priebus has resigned his role as White House chief of staff, saying it had become clear that the US president wanted to go in a different direction.

It would appear that this different direction is John Kelly, Donald Trump’s pick to replace Priebus. Here’s everything you need to know about Kelly.

What’s his background?

John Kelly will be taking over from Reince Priebus, pictured (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Since joining the Marine Corps in 1970, Kelly carved out a reputation as a highly respected, but often outspoken commander. During his career he issued often unpopular directives ranging from areas like women in combat to the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Kelly is the highest-ranking officer to lose a child in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. His son Robert was killed in November 2010 in Afghanistan.

Kelly retired from the army this year.

What role has he played in Trump’s administration so far?

Donald Trump appointed John Kelly as head of the Department of Homeland Security when he became president (Frank Franklin II/AP)

When Trump took office, he named Kelly as Homeland Security secretary. The Department of Homeland Security includes agencies that protect the president, respond to disasters, enforce immigration laws, protect the nation’s coastlines and secure air travel. His appointment fuelled concerns about an increase in military influence in the Trump White House.

As Homeland Security secretary, Kelly has taken the lead on some of Trump’s most controversial policies, including his executive orders suspending the admission of refugees and temporarily barring visitors from several Muslim-majority nations. Those orders have been stripped down by courts pending a Supreme Court review this fall.

He’s known for being outspoken in nature. In April, he challenged lawmakers at Congress critical of the aggressive approach to immigration enforcement to either change the laws or “shut up.”

What do people say about him?

Priebus calls Kelly a “brilliant pick” and says he himself remains a Trump fan.

Trump broke the news in the only way we’ve come to expect from him: on Twitter. The president had focused on Kelly in recent days, telling those close to him that he loved the general’s star power and that he believed military discipline was what his administration needed.

The president had considered others for the job, including political operatives David Urban and Wayne Berman. However, he decided on Kelly because he was impressed by the job he had done leading DHS and trusted him not to leak.

Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a frequent Trump critic, welcomed Kelly as “one of the strongest and most natural leaders I’ve ever known.”

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News