Donald Trump's new chief of staff John Kelly sworn in amid White House shakeup

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (right) speaks to the media about immigration enforcement legislation in the US Capitol in Washington, DC on June 29, 2017.
US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (right) speaks to the media about immigration enforcement legislation in the US Capitol in Washington, DC on June 29, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States President Donald Trump swore in his newly-named chief of staff John Kelly on Monday (July 31) as Trump looked to the retired Marine general for leadership after a shakeup of his top staff.  

Kelly, a retired four-star marine general, had been his Homeland Security secretary.

“We just swore in General Kelly, he will do a spectacular job, I have no doubt as chief of staff, what he has done in terms of homeland security is record shattering, if you look at the border if you look at the tremendous results we’ve had,” Trump said.

The US president on Friday announced via Twitter that he had picked Kelly to replace outgoing chief of staff Reince Priebus, rumoured for weeks to be on the verge of being sacked.

The chief of staff traditionally manages the president's schedule and is the highest ranking White House employee, deciding who has access to the president.

The shakeup was made public one day after the Senate failed - to Trump's great frustration - to pass a bill repealing Obamacare, a key campaign pledge by the billionaire businessman during his White House run.

The staffing overhaul has been greeted with relief by some in Washington who have been alarmed by a White House often criticised as undisciplined and wracked by leaks and internal squabbles.

"I think he will bring some order and discipline to the West Wing," one prominent Republican, US Senator Susan Collins, told NBC television on Sunday.

Since taking office six months ago, Trump's tumultuous administration has seen a succession of negative headlines and brewing scandals.

Adding to the chaos, the president has parted with a number of top officials including his national security adviser, deputy national security advisory and FBI director among others - an unparalleled turnover for such a young presidency.

Just one week before sacking Priebus, Trump dismissed his chief spokesman Sean Spicer and announced that he had hired a Washington outsider, brash Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci, to run his communications operation.

Washington insiders surmise that the decision to move Kelly from the helm of the Homeland Security Department may be part of a strategic effort by the president to inoculate himself from the widening investigation into Russia's attempt to influence the 2016 election.

They have speculated that Trump may be planning to have his Attorney-General Jeff Sessions - who heads up the Justice Department - replace Kelly as secretary of homeland security in a bid to thwart the probe, which many believe threatens his presidency.