A top White House adviser said Thursday that Chief of Staff John F. Kelly is staying put, despite multiple reports that his job is on the line.
“The president has a great relationship with Gen. Kelly,” said White House Communications Director Mercedes Schlapp. “At this point, Gen. Kelly is with us.”
Asked at a Washington Post forum if Mr. Kelly will leave soon, Mrs. Schlapp replied, “No.” She noted that he led the senior staff meeting in the West Wing as usual Thursday morning, “continuing to give us great direction in terms of making sure we stay on task on all that we need to get done.”
Various news reports have pointed to tensions between Mr. Kelly and the office of first lady Melania Trump, and over the possible ouster of Homeland Security Secretary Kierstjen Nielsen, with whom Mr. Kelly has a close working relationship.
Mrs. Schlapp said Mr. Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general, is especially valued for “putting processes in place … ensuring that we’re able to get something done from Point A to Point Z.”
The first lady’s influence was made clear Wednesday when the White House transferred deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel, chief of staff to national security adviser John R. Bolton, to another unspecified job in the administration. A day earlier, Mrs. Trump’s office had issued a statement saying that Ms. Ricardel didn’t deserve the honor of working in the White House.
The two women had reportedly clashed over details involving the first lady’s trip to Africa last month.
Mrs. Schlapp said the first lady is unquestionably an important adviser to the president.
“In this particular case with the first lady, she had an opinion about the staffer; she made her opinion known,” Mrs. Schlapp said. “She provides advice to the president. At the end of the day, the president made the ultimate decision to transfer Mira to another part of the administration.”
The action came as Mr. Bolton was traveling in Asia with Vice President Mike Pence.