Reince Priebus is out as White House chief of staff, after struggling for months to bring a sense of order to the West Wing or advance President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda. Trump announced in a tweet on Friday that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will replace him.
Two senior White House officials said Priebus had resigned on Thursday, but another senior West Wing aide said he was ousted from the position.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to directly answer whether Priebus or Trump made the decision for Priebus to go. “We all serve at the pleasure of the president. The conversations about this started with the president and Reince about two weeks ago,” Sanders told reporters.
Priebus, in an interview on CNN Friday evening, tried to downplay his tensions with Trump, while saying it was his decision to resign. “This isn’t a situation with a bunch of ill-will feelings,” he said.
He added that the president accepted his resignation without drama. “I think the president wanted to go in a different direction. I support him in that,” Priebus said.
While there were growing signs that Priebus might soon be leaving the West Wing, the timing of Trump’s announcement on Friday evening was not telegraphed. “I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American and a Great Leader. John has also done a spectacular job at Homeland Security. He has been a true star of my Administration,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
He added, “I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to his country. We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!”