WASHINGTON – John Kelly’s 17 months in the White House as the president’s chief of staff had its ups and downs.
Kelly, a former Marine general, was brought in by President Donald Trump to help quell the chaos within his administration that often spilled into public view.
His tenure, though, was marked by frequent firings and internal turmoil, and a tense relationship between him and the president. For months, it’s been rumored that Kelly would soon leave the White House and on Saturday the president announced Kelly would be stepping down at the end of the December. Trump also said he will soon announce a replacement for Kelly.
Here are of few key moments from Kelly's tenure within the administration:
On his first day, firing Scaramucci
Kelly got the ball rolling quick. During his first day on the job as Trump's new chief of staff, he fired communications director Anthony Scaramucci.
Scaramucci only lasted 10 days in the White House and was ousted days after an expletive-filled interview with The New Yorker in which he verbally assaulted both Reince Priebus, the former chief of staff, and Steve Bannon, who at the times was the president’s chief strategist.
Kelly made clear that he was there to help organize the White House and bring a more militarized approach to the running of the administration.
Helping Bannon out the door
Kelly also helped orchestrate the departure of Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Bannon was an architect of Trump's campaign and had the president's ear but frequently clashed with other members of the staff on trade, immigration and other policy issues.
Bannon's departure was announced in August 2017, a month after Kelly's start in the White House.
Kelly denies calling Trump an 'idiot'
Kelly strongly denied news reports in April that alleged he called Trump “an idiot” and threatened to resign.
"I spend more time with the President than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship," Kelly said in a statement. "He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total BS. I am committed to the President, his agenda, and our country. This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration's many successes."
Kelly was responding to reports that first appeared on NBC News. The reports cited tensions between him and Trump, and that he’d threatened to quit several times.
The report cited unnamed officials who overheard Kelly refer to Trump as "an idiot" on multiple occasions and cast himself as the "the lone bulwark against catastrophe" from Trump.
The Rob Porter saga
When allegations surfaced about former White House aide Rob Porter, Kelly offered a glowing statement on Porter's character, calling him a "man of true integrity and honor."
Soon, however, photos surfaced of Porter’s ex-wife with a black eye and allegations of abuse mounted. All eyes were on the White House and Kelly, with media asking when the White House was aware of the allegations and why Porter still had access to classified information.
Kelly said Porter had denied the allegations, which at first included only emotional abuse. Later, after Kelly issued a statement defending Porter, he learned of the photo and allegations of physical abuse.
Porter resigned from his post.
The release this fall of Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward’s book, “Fear,” was packed with the contents of closed-door conversations in the Trump administration. But one quote, in particular, got a lot of attention.
"He’s an idiot. It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had."
The comments were made by Kelly, according to the book, as he was talking with a small group.
The book led to the White House going on defense. President Trump issued a series of statements and took to Twitter with statements from members of his administration – who all denied what was quoted in the book, including Kelly’s quotes.
Omarosa firing and the tape
Kelly was tasked with firings at the White House, but during one of those firings he was being secretly recorded.
Omarosa Manigault Newman, the reality show star who followed Trump into the White House as an adviser, secretly taped her conversation with Kelly and other officials when she was brought into the Situation Room to be dismissed.
The recording includes Kelly accusing her of "pretty significant legal issues" due to misuse of a government vehicle, something Manigault Newman denied.
"I’d like to see this be a friendly departure," Kelly says in the recording. "There are pretty significant legal issues that we hope don’t develop into something that, that’ll make it ugly for you."
He later adds: "If we make this a friendly departure, we can all be, you know, you can look at, look at your time here in, in the White House as a year of service to the nation. And then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation."
The tape sparked security concerns and questions as to how Manigault Newman was able to get a cellphone and secretly record in the Situation Room, which is supposed to be one of the most sensitive and secure areas in the U.S.