President Donald Trump shook up his White House and named Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as White House chief of staff.

"I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American," Trump wrote on Twitter.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus talks with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. Photo / AP
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus talks with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner. Photo / AP

The president's follow-up tweet gave props to the embattled chief of staff Reince Priebus, who endured withering criticism this week from new communications director Anthony Scaramucci, and whose tenure was looking to be extremely limited with no formal show of support from the president, the Daily Mail reported.

"I would like to thank Reince Priebus for his service and dedication to his country. We accomplished a lot together and I am proud of him!" Trump wrote.


As the president returned to Joint Base Andrews from a trip to New York, Trump hailed both men but made no mention of the turmoil that has engulfed his White House.

He told reporters: "Reince is a good man. John Kelly will do a fantastic job. General Kelly has been a star, done an incredible job thus far - respected by everybody. He's a great, great American. Reince is a good man."

It was the second Friday shakeup in as many weeks. Last Friday, beleaguered press secretary Sean Spicer resigned on the day he learned Trump had hired Scaramucci.

On Thursday night, Scaramucci unloaded on Priebus, calling him a "f****** paranoid schizophrenic" in a late night phone interview with The New Yorker.

Priebus resigned on Thursday, CNN reported - the same day the epic profanity-laden call became public.

Trump hailed Kelly as one of his "great stars" Friday during speech in New York, in a bit of a preview of the decision - after a report said he wanted "a general" to serve as White House chief of staff.

He had flown to the event aboard Air Force One on a flight that included both Priebus nemesis and Scaramucci. He lavished praise on Kelly during his remarks.

"I want to congratulate John Kelly who has done an incredible job of secretary of Homeland Security," Trump told a New York crowd at an event about a crackdown on the MS-13 gang.


"Incredible," he continued to gush about Kelly. 'One of our real stars. Truly one of our stars. John Kelly is one of our great stars," he added for emphasis. "You know the border's down 78 per cent," Trump said.

Amid another explosion of infighting on his White House staff, Trump is telling people he wants "a general" to take charge of the operation as chief of staff.

The White House refused to say Thursday that Trump had confidence in chief of staff Reince Priebus, who was the subject of profanity laced comments by new communications director Anthony Scaramucci.

Trump has openly told people he has lost faith in Priebus, the New York Times reported on Thursday, and has spoken about wanting "a general" as chief of staff.

Priebus, the former Republican National Committee chair, had managed to hang on despite months of criticism on the job.

Trump also named generals to other prominent positions, installing Gen. John Mattis to run the Pentagon.

There were only hints of a staff shakeup as Trump boarded Air Force One Friday for a trip to New York. Both Priebus and Scaramucci came along. Scaramucci was spotted carrying a bag.

The joint trip involving the bitter rivals came just hours after publication in the New Yorker of Scaramucci's extraordinary attack on Priebus, where he called him a "f****** paranoid schizophrenic", and accused Steve Bannon of "sucking his own c***".

President Trump tweeted that he is naming Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as chief of staff. Photo / AP
President Trump tweeted that he is naming Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly as chief of staff. Photo / AP

In a phone call with New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza late on Wednesday night, a "worked up" Scaramucci took aim at the White House Chief of Staff, accusing him of leaking information to the press about him, and Chief Strategist.

The Mooch, as he has become known, accused Priebus of leaking word of a dinner he had Wednesday night with President Trump and Fox news host Sean Hannity, along with former Fox News president Bill Shine and first lady Melania Trump.

"Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the f***ing thing and see if I can c**k-block these people the way I c**k-blocked Scaramucci for six months," he said, in reference to the months he was kept out of the White House, reportedly by Priebus, after having sold his company.

He also went after senior strategist Stephen Bannon, accusing him of trying to build up his own image at the expense of President Trump.

"I'm not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to suck my own c**k," he said. "I'm not trying to build my own brand off the f***ing strength of the President. I'm here to serve the country," Scaramucci said.

Kelly spent four decades in the Marines, retiring in 2016.

His role has involved him in some of the flash points of early Trump administration policy, including a travel ban, a border wall, and other immigration enforcement issues.

In April, he said during a George Washington University speech that critics in Congress should "shut up" if they don't like the laws his team enforces.

"If lawmakers do not like the laws they've passed and we are charged to enforce - then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws. Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines," the Washington Times reported.

Last month, he touted the arrest of 66,000 illegal immigrants, going after Congress again as he backed up his troubled agency. "DHS does not make the laws. Congress does, and we will enforce the laws that are passed by Congress, and I am offended when members of this institution [the House of Representatives] exert pressure and often threaten me and my officers to ignore the laws they make and I am sworn to uphold," Kelly said.

He told CNN in April that so-called DREAMers brought here illegally as children would not be a deportation priority.

"My organisation has not targeted these so-called DREAMers, DACA, and we have many, many more important criminals to go after and get rid of, and not the DACAs," he said, referencing another program dealing with parents of children who are US citizens.

So far Trump has fired/lost:

• Mike Flynn
• Sally Yates
• Preet Bharara (+46 other US attorneys)
• James Comey
• Sean Spicer
• Reince Priebus

- additional reporting NZ Herald