President Donald Trump on Friday tamped down rumors that he’s looking to replace his embattled White House chief of staff -- but doesn't know how long John Kelly will remain in the job.
Speaking en route to a weekend getaway at his golf club in New Jersey, Trump told reporters that he and Kelly were “getting along very well," and called his chief of staff, "a wonderful man."
Asked if Kelly would be leaving the White House, the president said, "That I don't know. I like John a lot. I like him and I respect him."
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney and Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, have reportedly been considered as possible replacements for Kelly, according to two people with knowledge of Trump's thinking.
Kelly has played down the rumors, but quipped he'd be happy if he made it to the one-year mark in the position, which would happen July 31.
That's the date last year when Kelly, 68, who had been secretary of Homeland Security, moved over to the White House to replace Reince Priebus.
The retired four-star Marine Corps general has joked publicly that working for Trump is the hardest job he's ever had, including those on the battlefield.
Kelly, who earned a reputation for bringing order to a chaotic White House, has seen his role diminished in recent months as the president has increasingly followed his own counsel and added more like-minded aides to his staff.
That list will likely include former Fox News executive Bill Shine, who is expected to join the administration as deputy chief of staff for communications.
Mulvaney on Friday told Fox Business Network he'd "heard those same rumors about three times now in the last 12 months. I'll start dealing with that issue when the president actually raises it with me as opposed to the meeting that hasn't happened yet."
Trump also left open the possibility that Hope Hicks — who was a top campaign and White House aide before leaving in March — could someday return.
"I'll bet you Hope misses it. I think everybody misses it," Trump said.
Speaking on Brian Kilmeade's Fox Radio program Friday, White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp also played down the rumors about Kelly leaving.
"This is what we'd consider fake news," Schlapp said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.