According to a Monday report by Vanity Fair, while Donald Trump's relationship with his Chief of Staff, John Kelly, reportedly deteriorates, Ivanka Trump is searching for Kelly's replacement.
"Ivanka is the most worried about it. She’s trying to figure who replaces Kelly," an anonymous person who reportedly spoke with Ivanka told Vanity Fair correspondent Gabriel Sherman. Reportedly, this concern manifesting in the form of "quietly field-testing ideas" for a new Chief of Staff, should Kelly end up leaving his post.
Kelly has served as White House Chief of Staff since July of 2017, replacing former Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus. Prior to taking the reins as Chief of Staff, Kelly served as the Secretary of Homeland Security during the first six months of the Trump presidency.
On his first day in the position, Kelly made headlines when he fired communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who had only been on the job for ten days. The decision to fire Scaramucci was largely characterized as Kelly establishing his authority over a staff beleaguered by rumors of inefficiency and disorder.
But according to Sherman's report in Vanity Fair, Trump is not too keen on Kelly's reputation as a commanding voice of reason. "I’ve got another nut job here who thinks he’s running things," Trump reportedly said to a friend, an anonymous Republican briefed on the exchange told Vanity Fair.
Most recently, Trump and Kelly sparred in public over comments Kelly made about Trump's pledge to build a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico. Last Wednesday, Kelly told a group of Democrats that Trump had been "uninformed" when he made campaign promises to crack down on immigration, which famously included the promise that Mexico would pay for a wall cordoning it off from the United States. According to reports related to the conversation, Kelly said that the wall would never be built and that Mexico would never pay for it.
After news of Kelly's comments broke, Trump responded to them on Twitter, doubling down on his intention to construct said border wall. "The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it," he said. He elaborated in one of several follow-up tweets:
The Wall will be paid for, directly or indirectly, or through longer term reimbursement, by Mexico, which has a ridiculous $71 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. The $20 billion dollar Wall is “peanuts” compared to what Mexico makes from the U.S..
But while it appeared that the two were publicly butting heads, a White House official refuted that Trump was on the fritz with Kelly, telling Vanity Fair that it was "categorically false" that Trump isn't happy with his Chief of Staff. "He’s only ever referred to him as the general, tough, can be rough, and commands respect," an official said.
However, a series of unnamed sources in the Vanity Fair report allege that Trump is unhappy with the popular narrative that Kelly's role is to manage an otherwise unruly West Wing. "The more Kelly plays up that he’s being the adult in the room — that it’s basically combat duty and he’s serving the country — that kind of thing drives Trump nuts," an unnamed Republican reportedly told Sherman.
As for Ivanka's role in allegedly searching for a potential replacement for Kelly, the details aren't immediately clear. And according to Vanity Fair, even if Ivanka were to engage in a preliminary hunt for Kelly's replacement, he is not expected to be out of work in the near future. The goal, reportedly, is for him to last longer as Chief of Staff than Priebus, his predecessor.