John Kelly seeks to calm nerves amid White House staff turnover

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White House chief of staff John Kelly sought to reassure nervous West Wing staffers that all was well on Friday — while telling the press that President Trump is indulging himself with talk of staff shake-ups and uncertainty.

Kelly met with administration staff to let them know that there were “no immediate personnel changes” coming, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Kelly, whose own fate has been run through the rumor mill, tried to calm nerves amid conflicting reports and rampant speculation.

“People shouldn’t be concerned. We should do exactly what we do every day, and that’s come to work and do the very best job that we can,” was the message Kelly shared, according to Sanders.

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John Kelly in his White House role
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
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
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) before a briefing on hurricane relief efforts in a hangar at Muniz Air National Guard Base in Carolina, Puerto Rico, U.S. October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House senior advisor Jared Kushner look on as U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks before meeting with Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his delegation at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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 (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
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly takes questions from the media while addressing the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly leans on the Resolute Desk during a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks during a daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
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But a sense of unease prevailed as the President openly weighed staff changes during calls to people outside the White House, Kelly told a group of reporters in an off-the-record session, according to Axios.

In a matter of weeks, Trump’s top economic adviser resigned over tariffs, the secretary of state was fired on Tuesday and nearly half a dozen top aides have left the White House for a variety of reasons.

 

Many close to Trump, who promised to fill his administration with “the best people,” believe more upheaval is on the way.

“You want the right people for the right time, as policy priorities change you sometimes need personnel change,” Sanders admitted. “We’re going to continue to add new staff regularly.”

So far, 43% of Trump’s most senior staffers have quit, switched roles or have been forced out, according to the Brookings Institute.

That’s more than double every administration since 1981.

 

The President is reportedly eyeing replacing national security adviser H.R. McMaster, but has not settled on exact timing or a successor, according to reports.

Kelly, who has been at odds with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner of late, has also worn on the President.

Housing and Urban Development head Ben Carson and Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin are both under fire for misusing taxpayer money.

Rumors of McMaster’s possible exit were so rampant that Sanders took to Twitter late Thursday to weigh in.

 

“Just spoke to @POTUS and Gen. H.R. McMaster - contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC,” she wrote.

Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis both have said they want the national security adviser to have a graceful exit when he departs, ideally a military command.

Trump, after seeing the headlines about tumult in his administration, cracked wise during an Oval Office meeting with Vice President Pence and Kelly, according to The Associated Press.

With a laugh, Trump said: “Who’s next?”

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