By Noah Bierman
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump swore in his new chief of staff, John Kelly, on Monday morning, formalizing a shake-up in his top ranks that was announced Friday evening with word of the resignation of Reince Priebus.
“We look forward to – if it’s possible – an even better job as chief of staff,” Trump said to Kelly, formerly the secretary of homeland security.
“I’ll try, sir,” Kelly replied.
Trump is hoping that Kelly, a retired general, will retool and bring order to a White House that has struggled with low poll numbers, staff infighting, a faltering legislative agenda and an investigation into Russian election meddling and potential collusion and obstruction of justice.
Yet Trump said the administration “has done very well” after a reporter asked what would be different under Kelly. He cited the unemployment rate, the thriving stock market and unnamed polls that, he said, show high business confidence.
“We’re doing very well. We have a tremendous base,” he said. “The country is optimistic. And I think the general will just add to it.”
Trump praised Kelly’s performance at the Department of Homeland Security, where Kelly focused on immigration issues at the Southern border, as “record-shattering,” with “very little controversy.”
There was no word on whom the president might name to replace Kelly at the department. Trump reportedly has considered moving Attorney General Jeff Sessions there from the Justice Department, reflecting his unhappiness with the attorney general, but Republican senators pre-emptively have signaled their opposition to such a move.