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Photo: Mike Theiler / Getty Images

President Trump has privately mulled at least three potential replacements for chief of staff John Kelly.

The list: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, OMB chief and acting CFPB head Mick Mulvaney and businessman Tom Barrack. ABC News first reported the list earlier Friday.

What we're hearing:

  • Sources close to McCarthy and Mulvaney tell me they don't believe any discussions have happened recently with the president that would lead them to think any such change is imminent.
  • But Trump has been quietly sounding out friends, asking them what they think of Mulvaney and McCarthy. He often doesn't make it clear why he's asking the question; and friends sometimes make the logical leap because Trump privately disparages Kelly and vents his frustration about the chief.
  • In a recent conversation with Barrack, Trump asked his longtime friend whether he would ever consider coming in and serving as chief of staff. Barrack replied that it would ruin their friendship and that he thought Kelly was doing a good job, according to a source familiar with the conversation.

What happens next: Nobody knows. But the idea that a change could happen imminently simply doesn't gel with my reporting. The conversations are too loose, and it doesn't appear that Trump is settled on a solution. Also, Trump hates firing people and it would probably require Kelly to offer his resignation. (Something the White House says has not happened.)

Bottom line: Two things appear to be clear:

  1. Kelly's term as chief is entering a wintry period. This is almost inevitable when you work for Trump. (Just ask Jeff Sessions and Rex Tillerson.) But it doesn't necessarily mean you'll lose your job. (Just ask Jeff Sessions and Rex Tillerson.) 
  2. Kelly has lost the support — though never lost the essential respect —of a good deal of the White House staff.

Go deeper

Biden blindsides Europe with new AUKUS alliance on China

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Biden is constructing and deepening new alliances to strengthen the U.S. position in its showdown with China, but he risks alienating longstanding allies in the process.

Why it matters: Biden heralded a new agreement to help Australia acquire nuclear submarines as part of a trilateral security pact with the U.K. and the U.S. as an "historic step" to update U.S. alliances to face new challenges. The message from French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was quite different.

Trump voices support for Saturday's pro-Capitol riots rally

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Thursday expressed solidarity with people facing prosecution in connection to the Capitol insurrection.

Why it matters: The statement was issued ahead of Saturday's rally to protest the treatment of Capitol rioters. Over 600 known federal defendants face charges related to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Clinton-linked lawyer indicted in investigation of FBI's Russia probe

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

A grand jury has returned an indictment against Michael Sussmann, a lawyer whose firm represented the 2016 Clinton campaign, for lying to the FBI about not representing "any client" when he presented them with allegations about a secret Trump Organization back-channel to a Russian bank.

Why it matters: It's the second criminal charge stemming from special counsel John Durham's review of possible misconduct by the intelligence community and prosecutors who investigated the 2016 Trump campaign's ties to Russia.