White House Says Priebus Was on His Way out Weeks Before John Kelly Was Named Chief of Staff

| JUL 28, 2017 | 10:23 PM
Senate Legislators Address The Media After Their Weekly Policy Luncheons

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Note: This article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.

President Donald Trump announced he was replacing Chief of Staff Reince Priebus with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Gen. John Kelly via Twitter Friday afternoon.

During the president's announcement, Independent Journal Review's closed-door interview with Sarah Huckabee Sanders was cut short when her phones began to ring.

“You're probably going to want to see the news,” she told IJR.

Priebus's departure comes following several reports suggesting that he, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, was losing the confidence the president and facing leaking allegations. Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stepped down from his post, reportedly for his lack of cohesion with Trump's newly appointed communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci also initiated a campaign against leakers within the White House, which ended with a press aide with strong ties to Priebus to resign this week as well.

However, Sanders told reporters at the White House on Friday evening that the decision had nothing to do with Scaramucci's appointment. She said the process for Priebus's departure began two weeks ago. But when asked whether this was the president's decision or Priebus's decision to leave the White House, Sanders replied:

“We all serve at the pleasure of the president.”

Gen. Kelly will be sworn in Monday morning.

“The entire administration loves him, and no one is comparable,” Sanders said, speaking of Kelly. “The president thanks Reince Priebus for his service. They accomplished a lot together. He was loyal in his dedication to the president.”

Priebus's departure makes him the shortest-serving White House chief of staff in modern history.

"I will continue to be a strong supporter of the president’s agenda and policies," Priebus said in a written statement. "I can’t think of a better person than General John Kelly to succeed me[.]”

Priebus told CNN he tendered his resignation Thursday. When he was asked why he decided to resign, he said the president wanted to go in a different direction.

President Trump provided a statement following his announcement on Twitter, telling reporters Kelly will do a fantastic job while on the tarmac following Air Force One's return to Washington on Friday.

Hints of message coordination were observed throughout the day in the West Wing. Spicer and Sanders held a closed-door meeting in the hour and a half before the announcement. At the same time, lower press and other communications staff (at least 30 people in all) gathered for a meeting in Spicer's office.

This marks the end of a particularly chaotic week at the Trump White House. Aside from massive policy changes and events marking “American Heroes Week,” a scathing report by the New Yorker described an explative-laden, on-the-record conversation with Scaramucci against several senior level administrative officials:

“They’ll all be fired by me,” he said. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.” The issue, he said, was that he believed Priebus had been worried about the dinner because he hadn’t been invited. “Reince is a f**king paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci said.

The White House did not immediately provide details on Gen. Kelly's permanent replacement at the Department of Homeland Security.