A week after Sean Spicer resigned as press secretary on the heels of Anthony Scaramucci’s communications director appointment, Donald Trump promoted John Kelly to White House chief of staff. Kelly’s new gig means the Department of Homeland Security is without a confirmed secretary at the moment, but it also means Reince Priebus is no longer a part of the Trump administration. And considering the treatment the former Republican National Committee chairman has received at the hands of Scaramucci lately, the sudden change isn’t too surprising.
Mirroring his behavior regarding the transgender ban for the U.S. military on Wednesday, Trump tweeted he had “just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff” Friday evening. Calling him a “Great American” and a “Great Leader,” the president added that Kelly had “done a spectacular job at Homeland Security” and was a “true star” of the administration.
As for Priebus, Trump thanked him “for his service and dedication to his country” and concluded, “We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!”
Whether or not the now-former chief of staff was finally fired by Trump or resigned from his position in the administration wasn’t known at first. As photos and early reports from White House pool reporters accompanying the president’s detail began circulating on Twitter, however, a much clearer picture emerged. Referring to Priebus’ leaving the position as a “dismissal,” the pool report indicated Stephen Miller and Dan Scavino exited the vehicle the former was occupying before it “pulled aside” and away from the motorcade.
Washington Post reporter David Nakamura captured several images of Priebus’ lone vehicle following the separation.
Meanwhile, others quickly noted former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone told the conspiracy theory website Info Wars that the White House was considering Kelly for the job — on Tuesday. What’s more, MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff suggested the president may have sent the above tweets while standing in the doorway of Air Force Once as television cameras watched. Considering the video’s time stamp, it’s not too far a stretch.
Trump seems to have literally typed out tweets firing Reince & announcing Kelly as CoS from AF1 doorway on live TV. https://t.co/mPhig3b4Ts
— Jacob Soboroff (@jacobsoboroff) July 28, 2017
And, finally, of course…
UPDATE #1: CNN reports Priebus resigned “privately” on Thursday. As for the surprising nature of Trump’s announcing the change via Twitter, it still isn’t clear if Priebus was involved in the planning process or not.
UPDATE #2: In an official statement released to the press, Priebus said serving as Trump’s chief of staff “has been one of the greatest honors of my life.” After thanking the president for the opportunity, the ousted White House official claimed he would “continue to serve as a strong supporter of the President’s agenda and policies,” and lauded Kelly’s new appointment. Read the full statement below.