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AP

Donald Trump just said on Twitter he's replaced Chief of Staff Reince Priebus with Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

The argument for Kelly, per Republican sources: He has a reputation for efficient management of complex organizations — one of the reasons he was picked as Secretary of Homeland Security. He has lots of experience leading large groups, and is a no-nonsense guy who can make the trains run on time. And he looks the part, always big with President Trump.

  • Big Change 1: The change puts Vice President Mike Pence and his team — including his new chief of staff, Nick Ayers, and longtime aide Marc Short, who heads White House legislative affairs — at the center of the managing the Capitol Hill agenda. Republican lawmakers like Pence and will be pleased by this.
  • Big Change 2: Kelly won't tolerate a disruptive environment, which has been the very definition of this West Wing. Kelly also can be expected to try to normalize many of the reporting lines that usually would go to the White House chief of staff but have been going directly to this president.
  • Big Challenge 1: Kelly will have to organize the White House around this president's unique style, rather than the more traditional structure under recent presidents.
  • Big Challenge 2: President Trump doesn't like to be told what to do, even by people he respects. Kelly will have to find a way to guide and advise this president — but understand that he won't always be heeded.

Context:

  • Trump tweeted an acknowledgement of Priebus' service to him: "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!"
  • Priebus' job had been threatened ever since Anthony Scaramucci took over as WH communications director; the two do not get along. (More on that here.)
  • Many in Trump's administration hadn't come to Priebus' defense in the last two weeks since Scaramucci joined the team. A source close to the president told Axios: "We're getting to the point in the fight where a referee needs to wave his hands."
  • Mooch made it clear he was going to act as more of a chief of staff than a comms director when he threatened to fire any WH official who leaked info — which he thought Priebus had done. (It's not yet clear what role Scaramucci played in this.)
  • Earlier today, Trump praised Kelly during his MS-13 speech, seemingly foreshadowing the move. "John Kelly is one of our great stars."
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Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
12 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.