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Reince Priebus Is Ousted Amid Stormy Days for White House

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Reince priebus is ousted amid stormy days for white house

Reince priebus is ousted amid stormy days for white house.

Reince Priebus Is Ousted Amid Stormy Days for White House by Peter Baker and Maggie Habermas

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Reince Priebus, seen in May, was forced out as the White House chief of staff on Friday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff who failed to impose order on a chaos-racked West Wing, was pushed out on Friday after a stormy six-month tenure, and President Trump replaced him with John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security and retired four-star Marine general.

Mr. Trump announced the change via Twitter while sitting aboard Air Force One on a tarmac outside Washington minutes after returning from Long Island. Mr. Priebus, who had joined the president on the trip and never let on to other passengers what was about to occur, stepped off the plane into a drenching rain, ducked into a car and was driven away without comment.

Mr. Trump then emerged under a large umbrella and praised his outgoing and incoming chiefs. “Reince is a good man,” Mr. Trump shouted to nearby reporters. “John Kelly will do a fantastic job. General Kelly has been a star, done an incredible job thus far, respected by everybody, a great, great, American. But Reince Priebus — a good man.”

Mr. Priebus’s ouster was the latest convulsion in a White House that has been whipsawed by feuds and political setbacks in recent days. The president became convinced that Mr. Priebus was not strong enough to run the White House operation and told him two weeks ago that he wanted to make a change, according to White House officials. Intrigued at the idea of putting a general in charge, Mr. Trump offered the job to Mr. Kelly a few days ago.

Mr. Priebus said he had tendered his resignation to the president on Thursday, the same day the newly appointed White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, was quoted vowing to force the chief of staff out. Even so, as late as Friday morning, Mr. Priebus told colleagues that he thought he would have a week before the announcement to make a graceful exit, but he evidently learned otherwise later in the day. Mr. Kelly will take over the corner office in the West Wing on Monday.

Mr. Priebus said after the announcement that he had always made clear to Mr. Trump that when the president thought it was time for a new chief, he would support that. “The president has a right to change directions,” he said on CNN. “The president has a right to hit a reset button. I think it’s a good time to hit the reset button.”

He expressed no bitterness about his removal. “I’m always going to be a Trump fan,” he said. “I’m on Team Trump, and I look forward to helping him achieve his goals and his agenda for the American people.”

Mr. Kelly will be the first current or former general to serve as White House chief of staff since Alexander M. Haig in the final stretch of President Richard M. Nixon’s administration. Some advisers to Mr. Trump opposed the choice, arguing that Mr. Kelly did not have the political background for the job.

“The president needs someone who understands the Trump constituency as his chief of staff, someone who has both administrative skills and political savvy,” Roger Stone, Mr. Trump’s off-and-on adviser, said, anticipating Mr. Kelly’s selection before the announcement was made.

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Gen. John F. Kelly in April. President Trump has replaced Mr. Priebus with Mr. Kelly as the chief of staff. CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times

The rainy Friday afternoon shake-up added to the sense of instability in Mr. Trump’s White House. In six months in office, he has fired a national security adviser, an F.B.I. director and a holdover acting attorney general, while his White House press secretary, communications director, deputy chief of staff, deputy national security adviser and legal team spokesman have all left.

Privately, even Mr. Priebus’s critics wondered how Mr. Kelly would surmount the same challenges — controlling a freewheeling president who often circumvents paid staff members by seeking counsel from a roster of outside advisers.

Other aides were left to wonder about their own future. Mr. Trump has considered pushing out Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, according to a White House official who discussed internal deliberations on the condition of anonymity. Several conservative supporters of Mr. Bannon — including Representative Mark Meadows, the House Freedom Caucus chairman — told Mr. Trump on Friday that the president would risk losing base supporters if he let the strategist go.

Mr. Bannon also helped bring Mr. Kelly into the administration during the transition, and was among those who supported his move to chief of staff, an official familiar with his position said.

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