EXECUTIVE

Conway, other Trump supporters laud decision to replace Priebus with Kelly

Top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and other President Trump supporters on Saturday backed the president’s decision to make retired Gen. Mike Kelly his new chief of staff.

“I think General Secretary Kelly will bring some strength and discipline, and put out, without even saying to others, that loose lips sink ships,” Conway, counselor to the president, told Fox News' “Fox & Friends.”

She spoke one day after Trump replaced White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus with Kelly, amid widespread leaks from inside the West Wing and apparently across the administration that have slowed the president’s agenda.

“I think people will think thrice before they try to hurt each other … by using the press,” said Conway, Trump’s campaign manager in the final stretch of his successful 2016 White House bid.

Kelly, a retired Marine general, was the Homeland Security secretary before the announced change Friday.

“I think what the president wants to do is to make a fresh start,” Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager, also said Saturday on “Fox & Friends.”

“And I think he and General Kelly are going to make a great combination. It's time -- and I think the general is going to do this -- to make sure that everybody who’s working in the administration is working for the president’s agenda.”

Lewandowski didn’t accuse Priebus of leaking damaging information but suggested there was “no recourse” against those who did under his watch.

Priebus’ departure follows the ousting last week of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who helped Priebus lead the Republican National Committee before they joined the Trump White House.

As part of the larger White House shakeup, Trump has hired fellow New Yorker Antony Scaramucci as his communications director and has publicly suggested Attorney General Jeff Session also could be fired.

Kelly is considered a battle-hardened commander who would bring a background of military discipline and order to the unsettled White House.  

Kelly's experience as Homeland Security secretary and a veteran of three tours in Iraq -- along with a sobering family tragedy -- suggests he'll be a loyal manager for Trump when he officially starts the job Monday.

"He has been a true star of my administration," tweeted Trump in announcing the move.  The president also called Kelly a "great leader" and "great American." He called Priebus, ousted after a tumultuous six months, a "good man."

As Homeland Security secretary, Kelly has taken the lead on some of Trump's most controversial policies, including his executive orders suspending the admission of refugees and temporarily barring visitors from several Muslim-majority nations. Those orders have been stripped down by courts pending a Supreme Court review this fall.

And he has stood up to Congress.

In April, Kelly bluntly challenged members of Congress critical of the Trump administration's aggressive approach to immigration enforcement to either change the laws or "shut up."

But Kelly has won bipartisan respect from lawmakers as a result of his distinguished military career. He joined the Marine Corps in 1970, carving out a reputation as a highly respected but often outspoken commander who could roil debate and issue unpopular directives on issues ranging from women in combat to the treatment of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center.

Kelly also holds a somber distinction. He was the highest-ranking officer to lose a child in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. Kelly's son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in November 2010 in Afghanistan.

The general retired from the military last year, wrapping up a three-year post as head of U.S. Southern Command, which spanned some of the more fractious debate over the Obama administration's ultimately failed attempt to close the detainee facility at Guantanamo.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.