Politicians react to chief of staff shake-up as John Kelly replaces Reince Priebus

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks with his Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in the reviewing stand during Trumps inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Ave. outside the White House in Washington, Jan. 20, 2017. Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
President Donald Trump speaks with his Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in the reviewing stand during Trump's inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Ave. outside the White House in Washington, Jan. 20, 2017.

Following President Donald Trump’s announcement on Friday that Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly would replace Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff, members of the administration, lawmakers and other politicians offered their thoughts on the West Wing shake-up.

In a statement, Priebus said, "It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve this President and our country. I want to thank the President for giving me this very special opportunity." Priebus said he would continue to support Trump, adding that he would "continue to serve as a strong supporter of the President's agenda and policies."

"I can't think of a better person than General John Kelly to succeed me and I wish him God's blessings and great success," said Priebus.

Kelly wrote in a statement, "I have been fortunate to have served my country for more than 45 years - first as a Marine and then as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. I am honored to be asked to serve as the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States."

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted that he was “[g]rateful to Reince for his friendship and service to America,” adding that Priebus has “been a huge part of our success!”

Pence also congratulated Kelly, writing, “I know you will do a great job!”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who just Thursday told reporters he thought Priebus was doing a “fantastic job at the White House,” issued a statement praising the outgoing chief of staff. “He has served the president and the American people capably and passionately,” said Ryan. “He has achieved so much, and he has done it all with class.”

On Thursday, Ryan had urged Priebus and new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci to “sit down and settle” their differences, amongst speculation of disagreement in the White House.

Newt Gingrich also took to Twitter to praise both Priebus and Kelly. “Priebus will go down in history as one of the most important RNC chairs in the 163 year history of the GOP. He changed history,” Gingrich said.

Kelly, he continued, is “a remarkable Marine who has served his country his entire life.”

Many other Republican lawmakers commented on the staffing change.

In a statement, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Priebus "has been a devoted Chief of Staff to the President from the beginning" and praised him for his "great relationships with members of Congress." Kelly, he said, will bring "unparalleled leadership skills to the job."

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said in a statement “Reince Priebus is a good friend. I thank him for his service and wish him the best of luck going forward.” Johnson called Kelly “an outstanding leader who has served his country honorably.”

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., tweeted that Priebus “did a good job as chief of staff. His expertise & relationships with Congress benefited the White House in many ways.”

Sen. Tom Cotton R-Ark., said “John Kelly is a great American,” before thanking Priebus “for his service to our country.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, wished Priebus well in his future endeavors. "Reince did an exemplary job under extraordinary circumstances," he said. "Best of luck to him and his wonderful family in their next chapter."

Others, including former Obama administration senior adviser David Axelrod, questioned how Scaramucci and Kelly would work together in the White House.

Priebus’ departure comes one week after former White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned, shortly after the announcement that Scaramucci would be joining the administration.

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