Here’s why Trump tapped John Kelly to be his new White House chief of staff

President Donald Trump on Friday tapped John Kelly — his Homeland Security secretary — to replace Reince Priebus as the White House chief of staff.

"He is a great American and a great leader," Trump tweeted.

Kelly — whose permanent replacement at the DHS has yet to be named — will enter the high-level White House post Monday seeking to steady a turbulent Trump administration rocked by scandal, infighting and unforced errors.

So why does the Trump administration consider the general the man for the job?

He's been a staunch defender of Trump

Kelly will take over the chief of staff position from Priebus, whose feud with new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci boiled over this week when the Mooch accused him of being a leaker in a profanity-laden rant.

Kelly — a retired four-star Marine general — has been a staunch supporter of Trump. He has called leaks "pretty darn close to treason," strongly backed the need for Trump's travel ban and defended senior adviser Jared Kushner's reported attempts to set up a private communications channel with Russia.

"I don't see any big issue here relative to Jared," Kelly said on Meet the Press in May.

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John Kelly in his White House role
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John Kelly in his White House role
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly delivers speech at the Secretary of Interior Building in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about immigration reform at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly speaks about border security during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly delivers a statement accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City, Mexico February 23, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks on his phone in a hallway outside the room where U.S. President Donald Trump was meeting with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) and First Lady Melania Trump (lower right) listen as U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (R) shows the time to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (L) as they attend a session on reforming the United Nations at U.N. Headquarters in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (C) stands in an adjacent cabin as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the press cabin aboard Air Force One on his way to Washington after viewing damage from Hurricane Irma in Florida, U.S. September 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens as U.S. President Donald Trump makes remarks to reporters before meeting with a bipartisan group of members of Congress at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway (R) attend Kuwait's Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and U.S. President Donald Trump's news conference after their meetings at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly stands before a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (R) arrives with fellow staff to board Air Force One with U.S. President Trump for travel to New Jersey from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. August 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly looks down at his phone as he boards Air Force One in Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S., hours after it was announced that Trump Senior Adviser Steve Bannon left the administration August 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly looks on as he listens to Mexico's Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong (not pictured) delivering a joint message at the Secretary of Interior Building in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly arrives to Secretary of Interior Building before addressing the media, in Mexico City, Mexico, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
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He has reportedly grown close to Trump, along with Kushner, the president's son-in-law, and Steve Bannon, the White House chief strategist, during his short time at the DHS — largely because of his shared views on immigration and national security with the president.

"One of our real stars. Truly one of our stars," Trump said of him at a law enforcement speech in Long Island Friday, before he was announced as chief of staff. "John Kelly is one of our great stars."

Trump loves generals

Kelly was the third general to be appointed to Trump's cabinet when he was nominated for Secretary of Homeland Security in December.

"Frankly, he's way too impressed in the generals," a Trump confidante told Politico in December. "The more braid you have on your shoulders and the more laurels that you have on your visor, the more impressed he is."

When he assumes his new position, Kelly will be the first general to serve as White House chief of staff since Gen. Alexander Haig in Richard Nixon's administration.

He's seen as a potential force of stability in White House

Kelly — widely regarded as a "no nonsense" figure who "won't suffer idiots and fools" — has largely sidestepped the scandals and distractions that have engulfed other members of Trump's cabinet.

Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke will take over as the acting head of Homeland Security when Kelly moves to the West Wing. Texas Rep. Michael McCaul; Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach have all been rumored to be potential candidates to permanently replace Kelly. Jeff Sessions, whose future as attorney general has appeared increasingly tenuous, has also been floated as a potential replacement.

Kelly's appointment was praised by lawmakers — including some Democrats — who suggested the retired general could be a steady hand at the wheel of the Trump administration.

"The kind of discipline that he is going to bring is important," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said on CNN of the appointment. "I hope that we're at a turning point now."

In a statement, Kelly said he will be "honored" to serve as Trump's chief of staff and thanked his DHS staff.

"I am honored to be asked to serve as the chief of staff to the president of the United States," Kelly said. "When I left the Marines, I never thought I would find as committed, as professional, as patriotic a group of individuals. I was wrong. You accomplish great things everyday defending our nation and I know your exceptional work will continue."

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