Kelly seeks to reassure White House staff, pledges 'no immediate personnel changes'

  • White House chief of staff John Kelly met with administration staff on Friday morning to reassure them there would be "no immediate personnel changes."
  • Kelly's reassurances came at the end of a week marked by chaos at the highest levels of President Donald Trump's administration.
  • National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster would neither confirm nor deny that he was leaving. "Everybody has got to leave the White House at some point," he said.

Newly sworn-in White House Chief of Staff John Kelly looks on in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 31, 2017.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
Newly sworn-in White House Chief of Staff John Kelly looks on in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 31, 2017.

White House chief of staff John Kelly met with administration staff on Friday morning to reassure them there would be "no immediate personnel changes" coming, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing.

She said Kelly's message was that "people shouldn't be concerned. We should do exactly what we do every day, and that's come to work and do the very best job that we can."

Kelly's reassurances came at the end of a week marked by chaos at the highest levels of President Donald Trump's administration, beginning Monday with the removal of Trump's personal assistant, John McEntee, who was fired for "security reasons," according to the White House.

On Tuesday, Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with a tweet, and on Wednesday he named former TV commentator Larry Kudlow chair of the National Economic Council, replacing Gary Cohn, who had quit the week before.

On Thursday and Friday, rumors swirled of a coming "bloodbath" of more firings and resignations in the White House, including those of National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Kelly himself.

But after two days of conflicting accounts from unnamed sources, and no official word from the White House, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump and Kelly had reached a "truce" on Thursday, while other outlets reported that McMaster's departure would be delayed while the president decides on a replacement.

Sanders pushed back on the reports of McMaster's imminent departure, telling reporters that she had spoken directly to the president the night before "and he asked me to pass [a] message along to General McMaster" that he had not been fired. She added that Trump and McMaster had been in the same meetings together earlier in the day Friday, and she called McMaster "a dedicated public servant."

But less than an hour later, reporters spotted McMaster outside the West Wing and asked him whether he would be leaving his job. McMaster did not deny that he was on his way out, nor did he confirm it. "Everybody has got to leave the White House at some point," he told ABC's Tara Palmeri.

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