US President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, on 11 January 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

Trump Says to Expect Staff Changes, But Won't Say Who's Leaving

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said he’s considering staff changes in his administration, but declined in an interview to confirm he plans to replace Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen or White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

“Always in an administration after the midterms we make changes,” he told the Daily Caller on Wednesday. “We’re looking at a lot of options. I will be making a decision on homeland shortly. I have not made decisions yet.”

The Washington Post reported late Monday that Trump planned to remove Nielsen, whom he has blamed for what he calls a “crisis” of migration across the U.S. southern border. She remained in her job as of Wednesday and visited the border with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Trump tried to make illegal immigration central to the midterm elections last week, in which his party lost control of the House of Representatives. He attempted to stoke voter fears of a so-called “caravan” of migrants making its way north in Mexico, repeatedly claiming without substantiation that terrorists and criminals were traveling with the group.

He hasn’t mentioned the caravan since a post-election news conference on Nov. 7.

Nielsen could be the first of several changes in Trump’s Cabinet and staff. On Tuesday, First Lady Melania Trump publicly demanded the removal of National Security Adviser John Bolton’s top deputy, Mira Ricardel. Ricardel remained at the White House in the afternoon, after a statement calling for her ouster from the first lady’s spokeswoman, and was there again Wednesday, a person familiar with the matter said.

Nielsen is a close ally of Trump’s chief of staff, Kelly, who preceded her at the Department of Homeland Security, and it’s possible her departure may lead to his. He has said he will serve through Trump’s re-election contest in 2020.

Trump was seen talking to Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, at an Election Night gathering last week, according to two people familiar with the matter -- an encounter that’s fed rumors among Trump associates that Ayers may replace Kelly.

The White House press office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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