The White House is reportedly bracing for a serious shake-up as President Donald Trump considers replacing key members of his Cabinet — including his Chief of Staff John Kelly and Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen — following mid-term losses.
The Trump White House must now move into 2020 campaign mode, and President Trump is reportedly determined to oust those top advisers he feels are responsible for the White House’s recent spate of public relations troubles, particularly on the subject of immigration.
CNN reports that the two figures at the top of Trump’s list now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is gone are White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Homeland Security director Kirstjen Nielsen, who presided over the summer’s disastrous “family detention” effort that left the White House with no choice but to change anti-immigration strategies mid-stream.
“[Trump’s] anger toward Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has bubbled into public view on several occasions, with the President blaming her for failing to solve the intractable challenge of illegal immigration,” the network claims.
The White House, of late, shuffled the responsibility for maintaining secure borders to the Department of Defense, which recently authorized the deployment of between 5,000 and 15,000 active duty members of the military to the United States’s southern border to handle the coming onslaught of asylum claims from the so-called “migrant caravan” winding its way through Mexico from Honduras and Guatemala. Those troops are, in some cases, already in position on the border.
Chief of Staff John Kelly is often rumored to be on the chopping block (at least four times in the last six months alone), but one NBC report says that Kelly’s brash personality recently led to a conflict with the First Lady, who wanted more senior titles for members of her bare-bones East Wing staff. Sources reportedly told NBC that Trump was “furious” when Kelly refused to give Melania’s team promotions and pledged to replace Kelly.
Other officials facing the chopping block include Defense Secretary James Mattis, beloved by military leaders but not so much by the White House, and Interior Secretary Ryan ZInke, who is reportedly facing an “conflict of interest probe” over the development of land he owns in Montana (Zinke is also a very strong candidate for Montana governor, a position he could only run for if he abandoned his White House appointment).
But if the president is intending swift and merciless changes to his slate of top advisers, he’s showing new urgency in making the big decisions. The White House hasn’t spoken publicly on any potential Cabinet departures, and all those named as facing unemployment say they’re comfortable and confident in their current positions.
CNN’s experts agree that no one is likely to be out on the street soon. Although in Trump’s first year, firings came fast and furious, and Cabinet members were replaced after serving mere weeks on the job, once the Trump administration’s Cabinet roster settled, it’s remained largely unchanged — except for Jeff Sessions, of course.
“No one leaves quickly around here,” an anonymous White House official told the network. “Even people the president wishes were gone.”