President Trump announced Saturday that John Kelly will be leaving his post as White House chief of staff at the end of the year, marking the end of a tenuous, sometimes tumultuous tenure that many believed would conclude months ago.
Mr. Trump announced Kelly's imminent departure on the White House South Lawn Saturday afternoon before departing to attend the Army vs. Navy football game in Philadelphia.
"John Kelly will be leaving, I don't know if I can say retiring but, he's a great guy," the president told reporters. "John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year. We'll be announcing who will be taking John's place, it might be on an interim basis. I'll be announcing that over the next day or two."
The president added, "I appreciate his service very much."
A senior White House official told CBS News that the president didn't bring up Kelly's impending departure at a dinner with White House senior staff Saturday night, as some had expected him to do. It is unclear who will replace Kelly, although Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, has been listed as a possible successor. Mr. Trump didn't respond to shouted questions as to whether Ayers would be the replacement.
Kelly, who joined the White House as chief of staff in July 2017 after the departure of predecessor Reince Priebus, spent months fighting to establish and maintain control of a White House marked by competing factions and complicated by a president who thrives on keeping everyone guessing.
For months, Kelly's departure appeared to be looming, as CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reported in March, and in November. In July, The Wall Street Journal first reported Kelly had agreed to stay on as chief of staff through the 2020 election cycle, although whether he would actually last that long in the role -- a long time for any chief of staff but particularly for senior staff in Trump world -- was in question.
Kelly's departure comes at a pivotal time for Mr. Trump's administration, as special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation continues to hand down legal developments concerning people close to the president, and as Democrats prepare to take control of the House -- and the investigative powers that come with it -- in January.
Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general -- a qualification that made him attractive for the job to Mr. Trump -- strove to bring some order to a White House with relatively little government experience, and to a president who dislikes many of the routine aspects of governing.
Onetime Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described Mr. Trump's aversion to detail in an interview with "CBS News This Morning."
"It was challenging for me, coming from the highly processed Exxon Mobil, to go work for a man who is pretty undisciplined, doesn't like to read, doesn't read briefing reports, doesn't like to get to the details of a lot of things but rather says look this is what I believe," Tillerson said.
It was to that environment that Kelly attempted to bring order. Upon his arrival, Kelly also looked to ensure fewer people had direct access to the president in the Oval Office -- a move that frustrated some whose access was suddenly restricted.
What Kelly will do next is unclear.
Kelly had moments of his own, however, when he became the focus of attention or controversy. Here are a few of them: