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Kelly Unusual and Unexpected Choice For Trump's Chief of Staff

Kelly Unusual and Unexpected Choice For Trump's Chief of Staff
New White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (AP)

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Friday, 28 July 2017 06:35 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Official Washington was jolted on Friday afternoon by the White House's announcement that retired U.S. Marine Corps General and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly would be President Donald Trump's new chief of staff.

"Unusual" and "unexpected" were the words heard most often among the White House press corps to characterize the choice of Kelly – at 67, the oldest person to hold the title since it was officially created in 1953 and only the 3rd retired military officer to serve as White House chief of staff (the others were retired U.S. Army Gen. Wilton "Jerry" Persons, President Eisenhower's top aide from 1958-61, and then-U.S. Army Col. Alexander Haig, President Nixon's chief of staff from 1973-74).

The tapping of Kelly as the new right hand man to Trump came minutes after the resignation of Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Overruled by Trump on matters such as the recent hiring of Anthony Scaramucci to be White House Communications Director, Priebus's resignation was widely-expected.

"Kelly faces faces the problem [former Secretary of Defense] Donald Rumsfeld described when he said, 'You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.'" Presidential historian and best-selling author David Pietrusza told Newsmax, "Despite the inglorious departure of the Republican National Committee faction [under Priebus] from upper West Wing leadership, the White House Staff remains badly divided against itself and still largely inexperienced in the ways of Washington."

Noting that "a lot of quality people would not at this point in time take the job," Pietrusza suggested that "being a no-nonsense Marine may be a plus. A less obvious plus is that he served as a Marine liaison to the House. So he has some experience in working with Congress. Moreover, the Congress – specifically the Senate – seems to respect him, as witnessed by his 88-11 confirmation vote."

Although Kelly's briefings on homeland security have generally received high marks from reporters who cover the White House, he was never on anyone's list of prospective replacements for Priebus. Most of the speculation about a new chief of staff was previously focused on Gary Cohn, the president's top economic advisor and a close personal friend of Trump.

Since former New Hampshire Gov. Sherman Adams became the first person to hold the title of White House Chief of Staff (under Eisenhower in 1953), the office has more often than not been held by politicians (former Illinois Rep. Donald Rumsfeld under Gerald Ford and former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu under Bush) or campaign operatives (Hamilton Jordan under Jimmy Carter or Priebus under Trump).

With exactly six months and eight days on the job, Priebus becomes the shortest-serving White House chief of staff. Pete Rouse served as Barack Obama's chief of staff from October 2010 to January 2011, but was "interim chief of staff" and never held the job permanently.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Official Washington was jolted on Friday afternoon by the White House's announcement that retired U.S. Marine Corps General and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly would be President Donald Trump's new chief of staff.
john kelly, trump, chief, staff, reaction
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2017-35-28
Friday, 28 July 2017 06:35 PM
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