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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

New White House appointments help John Kelly expand foothold

The recent appointments will go a long way in strengthening Mr Kelly’s influence and management style in the White House

Retired General John Kelly is strengthening his hold and influence inside the White House
Retired General John Kelly is strengthening his hold and influence inside the White House

Since taking over as chief of staff last July, John Kelly is strengthening his hold and influence inside the White House, with series of new appointments announced on Wednesday that are close to the retired General.

Two of the new officials expected to join the Trump team have worked previously with Mr Kelly. The White House statement said that Kirstjen M. Nielsen will be Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Chief of Staff. Ms Nielsen was John Kelly’s Chief of Staff at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Also, Zachary Fuentes, who was a military assistant to Mr Kelly at DHS, will serve as a special assistant to the president and to his chief of staff.

Additional appointments included Captain Keith B. Davids, who will serve as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the White House Military Office, and Robert Peede as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Advance. Another name who has experience with the US military, Daniel P. Walsh, will serve as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Military Office.

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The streamlining of appointments with military or DHS backgrounds will go a long way in strengthening Mr Kelly’s influence and management style in the White House. The retired General has so far attempted to steer a more disciplined operation and to control who and what comes in and out of the Oval office. This tighter process is not boding well with some on the right, such as former UN ambassador John Bolton who complained recently of losing his access to Mr Trump.

More staffing is also taking place in the communications department in the White House. Politico reported on Wednesday that Fox News pundit, Mercedes Schlapp, “is expected to join the White House in a senior role in the communications department”.

At the State Department, David Satterfield, a veteran US diplomat in the Middle East, has officially started his new job this week as acting assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs.

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