White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly will remain in the job through at least Jan. 2 to ensure “a very peaceful and pragmatic transition” for his successor, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Tuesday.
President Trump had announced Saturday that Kelly would exit his post by the end of the year, capping the retired Marine general’s rocky tenure as the president’s top aide.
The process of selecting a successor was thrown wide open Sunday after Nick Ayers, Trump’s leading pick to take over the job, decided instead to depart the White House. Ayers serves as chief of staff to Vice President Pence.
Conway offered nothing but praise for Kelly and his service during an appearance Tuesday morning on Fox News Channel.
“He will stay on the job through January 2 at least, and I think there will be a very peaceful and pragmatic transition to the next chief of staff,” she said.
Asked whether Kelly’s stay could extend beyond Jan. 2, Conway said that would be up to Trump and Kelly.
“I know they both love this country and want there to be a transition to the next leader here,” she said.
Trump later told reporters that he was in “no rush” to name a successor to Kelly and that he expected to announce a replacement in a week or two.
“We have a lot of people who want the job, chief of staff,” Trump told reporters during a contentious meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Earlier Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter to push back on reports that he was struggling to find someone who wanted to work in his administration during a tumultuous stretch.
“Fake News has it purposely wrong,” Trump wrote. “Many, over ten, are vying for and wanting the White House Chief of Staff position. Why wouldn’t someone want one of the truly great and meaningful jobs in Washington. Please report news correctly. Thank you!”
In July, Trump announced that he had asked Kelly to stay on the job through 2020. The relationship between the two men has significantly deteriorated since then.