Powered by IR Society at NYU

IR Insider is a production of NYU's International Relations Society. Our goal is to explain and discuss issues in IR in an engaging and thought-provoking fashion. We are written by students, for students, about issues students care about. 

5 Things You Need to Know About John Kelly

President Trump fired his chief of staff Reince Priebus in late July, shortly after former Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci alleged that he was behind the leaks coming out of the West Wing. His replacement: John Kelly, a four-star general and the acting Homeland Security Secretary during the time.

General John Kelly is one of the most influential people in Trump’s orbit. As chief of staff, he advises the President on domestic and international affairs, and acts as a liaison between Congress and the President. Kelly is also responsible for overseeing day-to-day activities inside the White House.

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Here are the five most important things you should know about Trump’s chief of staff.

He worked in the Obama Administration as the Commander of the United States Southern Command. Before assuming this position inside the Department of Defense, Kelly had served over 35 years in the United States Marine Corps.

His son, Robert Kelly, was a marine who served in Afghanistan. During his tour in 2010, he was killed in combat. Kelly mentioned his son in an emotional press conference after controversy arose amidst the recent ambush of American soldiers in Niger.

Watch Gen. John Kelly's full remarks on troop deaths in Niger at the White House briefing

Kevin Dietsch / EPA

Kevin Dietsch / EPA

He is tough on foreign policy, especially Mexico. Even though he commented that one of President Trump’s biggest campaign promises of building a border wall would “be unlikely,” he has a hardline agenda on Mexican immigrants. Recently, he has ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “to portray immigrants swept up during raids as criminals.”

He was chosen by President Trump as a person “who would restore order” within the White House. As Trump’s Counselor, Kellyann Conway noted, Kelly’s “integrity, team cohesion, focus, discipline, performance, and results,” was one of the reasons he was selected for the position.

His stance on North Korea is unclear, but differs from President Trump’s view. While President Trump continues to engage in a feud with the North Korean leader over Twitter and in his speech to the United Nations, Kelly has commented that he “hopes diplomacy will work.”