"The question is going to be whether a new chief of staff can have the same kind of gravitas that John (Kelly) did, which is the ability to stop the wrong decision from being made", said Leon Panetta, who was chief of staff for former President Bill Clinton from 1994 to 1997, and later became Central Intelligence Agency director and Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration. Kelly's inexperience on matters of politics had been glaringly obvious to Trump, officials said.
Mr Trump initially nominated Mr Kelly to oversee Homeland Security before promoting him to chief of staff last July, replacing Reince Priebus. Trump has recently taken the unusual step of inviting Ayers to accompany him on Air Force One, even without Pence present, people familiar with the situation said.
Nick Ayers, the 36-year-old chief of staff to the vice-president, Mike Pence, has been named by a number of reports as a likely successor. In essence, Tony Schwartz, the man who came to personally know Trump after writing his 1987 book, told Politico that Trump's new chief of staff pick will not make a bit of difference. "More often than not the individual that's serving in that position can't wait to find a new position, in the president's Cabinet or maybe simply retiring from the rigors of the White House and a presidential administration".
Dunford is scheduled to retire in October 2019 at the end of his second two-year term. Various factions have privately-and sometimes publicly-bitterly fought, and Trump has bristled at Kelly's management style.
Kelly's departure means Trump will have a new top adviser by his side as he confronts a more perilous political climate.
Kelly's time as chief of staff has been marked by strife and division inside the White House.
"Now is the best opportunity to be laser-focused on further building out the political infrastructure that will support victory for President Trump and the GOP in 2020", campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.
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In September, veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward quoted Kelly as calling Trump "an idiot".
Trump isn't saying immediately who will replace Kelly, a retired Marine general who has served as chief of staff since July 2017.
Dunford is a former commandant of the Marine Corps and commander of coalition troops in Afghanistan.
But in the last months, Kelly has seen his status as chief of staff diminish.
Kelly's status had become endangered in recent months as his relationship with the President deteriorated. After firing his attorney general Jeff Sessions and naming William Barr, Mr Trump is gathering experienced Republican political hands to withstand the legal fight.
Representatives for the White House did not be immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.