- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2017

Former Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly was sworn in as White House chief of staff Monday morning, with President Trump predicting the retired four-star Marine Corps general will do “a spectacular job” bringing order to a West Wing that’s been roiled by infighting.

Mr. Trump told reporters that Mr. Kelly will bring his strong performance from DHS, where he made significant inroads combating illegal immigration, to the White House.

“At Homeland, what he’s done has been nothing short of miraculous,” the president said at the start of a Cabinet meeting. “The border was a tremendous problem, and now [there is] close to 80 percent stoppage. I have no doubt that he will be an absolutely superb chief of staff.”

Mr. Kelly is replacing Reince Priebus, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, who submitted his resignation Thursday under pressure from the president and his new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci. Mr. Priebus was blamed for failing to control leaks from the White House and for the administration’s stalled agenda in Congress.

Also seated across from Mr. Trump at the Cabinet table was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom the president has criticized increasingly as “weak” due to Mr. Sessions’ decision in March to recuse himself from any Russia investigations. Mr. Sessions and the president did not interact at the meeting while reporters were present.

Mr. Trump disputed reports of dysfunction at the White House Monday morning, tweeting, “No WH chaos!”

The president is leaning heavily on military brass in his administration, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general who has worked closely over the years with Mr. Kelly, and Army Gen. H.R. McMaster, who is the White House national security adviser.

Mr. Trump said Mr. Kelly did such a good job at DHS that even Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto noted the difference on illegal immigration trends in a recent conversation with him.

“The president of Mexico called me and said [at] their southern border, very few people are coming because they know they’re not going to get through our border, which is the ultimate compliment,” Mr. Trump said.

He said of Mr. Kelly, “What he’s done in terms of Homeland Security is record-shattering. With a very controversial situation, there’s been very little controversy, which is pretty amazing by itself. We look forward to, if it’s possible, an even better job as chief of staff. I predict Gen. Kelly will go down in terms of the position of chief of staff, [as] one of the great[est] ever.”

Responding to a reporter’s question, Mr. Trump said his administration has done “very well” in the first six months, particularly on the economy.

“The stock market is the highest it’s ever been, unemployment [is] lowest in 17 years, companies are doing tremendously well,” the president said. “Business spirit is the highest it’s ever been, according to polls. We have a tremendous base, a tremendous group of support.”

He said “the country is optimistic, and I think the general will just add to it. We will proceed and we will keep going.”

Mr. Trump said the media didn’t pay enough attention on Friday to a Commerce Department report showing that the economy grew in the second quarter by a strong 2.6 percent, more than double the rate of the first three months of this year.

“Overall, I think we’re doing incredibly well, the economy is doing incredibly well,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re starting from a really good base. We’re going to work hard, and we’re going to make America great again. That’s how we won this big election, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing.”

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