Trump announces John Kelly is leaving

John Kelly

"Though Trump asked Kelly over the summer to stay on as chief of staff for two more years, the two have stopped speaking in recent days", CNN White House reporter Kaitlan Collins wrote on Friday. But Trump aides warn that Ayers is more a Pence advocate, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has apparently criticized Ayers' foreign-policy skills.

Kelly was reportedly questioned about the obstruction of justice arm of the special counsel's investigation, which CNN reported Thursday was first launched by former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe shortly after his boss, James Comey, was fired. "I'll be announcing that over the next day or two". But Trump's broader efforts to reshape his inner circle have been on hold, leading to a sense of near-paralysis in the building, with people unsure of what to do.

For his part, Kelly has joked that he didn't want to leave his position at Homeland Security, but that he "did something wrong and God punished me".

Kelly is reportedly being honored at a special dinner this week meant to thank him and other departing staff - although CNN says that he and President Trump are no longer on speaking terms.

Trump said the date of transition is "to be determined".

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Ayers, who is a seasoned campaign veteran despite his relative youth - he's just 36 - has the backing of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president's daughter and son-in-law and senior advisers, for the new role, according to White House officials. But Ayers has also faced some resistance. It's not clear if the downturn in his relationship with the president was a direct result of his participation in the investigation - though rumors of tensions between the two have persisted for almost a year.

"John Kelly could resign in the coming days", she says, warning West Wing employees are bracing for "a pretty big staff shakeup" if and when he leaves. But each time the two have decided to make amends, even as Kelly's influence has waned.

Kelly, too, has made no secret of the trials of his job and has often joked about how working for Trump was harder than anything he'd done before, including on the battlefield.

But President Donald Trump is apparently treating the retired Marine general like he's already gone.

This story will be updated.

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