John Kelly, sworn in as chief of staff, will do 'spectacular job,' Donald Trump says
U.S. president praises Kelly's Homeland Security record, denies portrayals of White House 'chaos'
U.S. President Donald Trump seemed to express hope of bringing order to his administration's inner circle as John Kelly was sworn in as his new White House chief of staff on Monday.
Trump predicted Kelly will do a "spectacular job" as he officially welcomed the retired Marine Corps general and former Homeland Security secretary during an Oval Office ceremony.
Just a few hours later, it was reported that Anthony Scaramucci was being let go as communications director less than two weeks after being named to the post. Trump made the move upon the request of Kelly, according to the New York Times.
The White House later confirmed Scaramucci's departure.
Earlier Monday, the president posted a tweet denying there is "chaos" in the White House, despite a particularly tumultuous stretch. However, after the swearing-in, he referred to a "very controversial situation."
"We just swore in Gen. Kelly," Trump said. "He will do a spectacular job, I have no doubt, as chief of staff. What he's done in terms of Homeland Security is record-shattering. You look at the border, you look at the tremendous results we've had and you look at the spirit. And with a very controversial situation, there's been very little controversy, which is pretty amazing by itself."
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Trump was declining to say just what Kelly will do differently from Preibus, whom Trump ousted as chief of staff late last week. Trump has said he hopes Kelly can bring some military order to an administration weighed down by a stalled legislative agenda, infighting among West Wing aides and a stack of investigations.
While Trump is looking for a reset, he pushed back against criticism of his administration in his tweet: "Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!"
'Let Trump be Trump'
Former Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski, who was ousted from the campaign in June 2016, said on NBC's Meet the Press that he expected Kelly would "restore order to the staff" but also stressed that Trump was unlikely to change his style.
"I say you have to let Trump be Trump. That is what has made him successful over the last 30 years. That is what the American people voted for," Lewandowski said. "And anybody who thinks they're going to change Donald Trump doesn't know Donald Trump."
Highest Stock Market EVER, best economic numbers in years, unemployment lowest in 17 years, wages raising, border secure, S.C.: No WH chaos!—@realDonaldTrump
Kelly's start follows a wild week, marked by a profane tirade from the new communications director, Trump's continued attacks on his attorney general and the failed effort by Senate Republicans to overhaul the nation's health care law.
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In addition to strain in the West Wing and with Congress, Kelly starts his new job as tensions escalate with North Korea. The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force against North Korea, following the country's latest intercontinental ballistic missile test. The U.S. also said it conducted a successful test of a missile defence system located in Alaska.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, said on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday that she hopes Kelly can "be effective," and "begin some very serious negotiation with the North and stop this program."
Another diplomatic fissure opened Sunday when Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S. would have to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by several hundred under new sanctions from Moscow. In a television interview, Putin indicated the cutback was retaliation for new sanctions in a bill passed by the U.S. Congress and sent to Trump.
Trump plans to sign the measure into law, the White House has said. After Putin's remarks, the U.S.State Department deemed the cutbacks "a regrettable and uncalled for act" and said officials would assess the impact and how to respond to it.
While Trump is trying to refresh his team, he signalled that he does not want to give up the fight on health care. On Twitter Sunday, he said: "Don't give up Republican Senators, the World is watching: Repeal & Replace."
The protracted health-care fight has slowed Trump's other policy goals, including a tax overhaul and infrastructure investment. But Trump aides made clear that the president still wanted to see action on health care. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said on CNN's State of the Union, that senators "need to stay, they need to work, they need to pass something."
Asked if nothing should be voted on in Congress until the Senate votes again on health care, Mulvaney said: "well, think — yes. And I think what you're seeing there is the president simply reflecting the mood of the people."
With files from CBC News