US President Donald Trump fired communications director Anthony Scaramucci at the urging of new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a clear sign that the retired Marine general is being empowered to manage what has been an unwieldy West Wing operation.
Kelly demanded Scaramucci's departure after he attacked former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus in a profanity-laced interview last week that quickly became a public symbol of the vicious infighting that has helped define the first months of the Administration.
Trump's willingness to dismiss Scaramucci - whom he hired less than a fortnight ago - was viewed by many in the West Wing as an indication that he is eager to impose order and is giving Kelly the tools to do so.
"General Kelly has the full authority to operate within the White House, and all staff will report to him," said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Left unclear is whether Kelly will be able to curb the President's inclination to subvert pecking orders, his tendency to encourage rivalries among his staff and his insistence on managing his own message through social media in ways that have often undermined his aides' planning.
"This is a president that loves feedback and information, and he doesn't like getting it through a chain of command," said Trump friend Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media. "I don't think that's going to change."
But Kelly's arrival signals that Trump is putting his confidence in someone he perceives to have the stature and experience to be a forceful leader in a White House characterised by competing power centres.
After swearing in Kelly to his role during an Oval Office ceremony, Trump treated him to the formalities typically reserved for visiting heads of state. As the two sat shoulder to shoulder in armchairs for the benefit of cameras, Trump leaned in and effusively praised Kelly, who previously served as Trump's Homeland Security Secretary. He later lavished more praise on him during a Cabinet meeting. "I predict that General Kelly will go down, in terms of the position of chief of staff, one of the greatest ever," the President said. "We all know him, we respect him, admire what he's done."
Priebus was viewed inside the White House as being ineffective and having little control over other top aides, and the President had mused for months about replacing him. In one of the strongest indications that Kelly will have greater authority than his predecessor, Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner - both of whom advocated for Kelly to be hired - have expressed their willingness to support any structural changes Kelly might make, according to a White House official. Sanders confirmed that they, too, will report to Kelly, as will all other officials.
A Kelly-led senior staff meeting was well received, said people close to the White House who described aides as feeling optimistic that he might create stability in the West Wing.
"He's an adult and a disciplinarian," said Barry Bennett, who was a Trump campaign adviser. "He walks in with respect. I don't think people will go to war with him."
But Kelly is planning to bring at least one senior adviser from Homeland Security with him to the White House. There are signs that these new hires may be met with a chilly reception, two people familiar with the matter said, raising questions about who will hold influence in a White House overloaded with aides competing for influence. The White House has for months been dominated by warring factions.
Trump was eager to move beyond the criticism that his six months in office have been marked by tumult and dysfunction.
As the dust settled on the latest staff turnover, he tweeted: "A great day at the White House!"