Mr. Kelly, who did not show up for work on Friday, met with Mr. Trump that evening in the White House residence, just before a senior staff dinner, to hash out the details of his departure, according to people familiar with the meeting. Mr. Pence and Mr. Ayers also attended.
In the residence on Friday night, the president and Mr. Kelly agreed that the departing chief would break his own news on Monday, announcing his exit to senior White House staff members. But Mr. Trump ultimately broke the news himself on Saturday afternoon.
Mr. Kelly’s departure is expected to have a ripple effect across the upper echelons of the West Wing staff, as well as in Mr. Trump’s cabinet. One of the biggest question marks is the fate of Kirstjen M. Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security. Ms. Nielsen has clashed repeatedly with Mr. Trump, and at times relied on Mr. Kelly, who was previously her boss at the agency, to defend her.
For weeks, Mr. Trump has been offering her position to other people. At one point, Mr. Trump even broached the possibility that Thomas P. Bossert, a former homeland security adviser, would return and run the agency. But Mr. Bossert, who was forced out of the administration after John R. Bolton became national security adviser, made it clear he would not accept the position.
The ceaseless West Wing backbiting that captures headlines has belied the reality of working there, which is that aides form tight cliques and burrow into those friendships to endure the chaos of the work environment.
Other protégés of Mr. Kelly like Zachary D. Fuentes, the deputy chief of staff, are also seen as particularly vulnerable without Mr. Kelly in the top job. Mr. Fuentes, who has earned ridiculing nicknames, including “Zotus” (a play on Potus, short for president of the United States) and “prime minister,” for his large ego, has already approached other departments in the administration for a position, but has cultivated few allies. Mr. Trump continues to blame him and Mr. Kelly for letting him miss a World War I battlefield commemoration outside Paris because of bad weather.
The White House communications office, which Mr. Trump has complained about for two years, is also set to undergo a restructuring. The overlap in officials has bred chronic confusion. But those who are expected to stay include Bill Shine, the newly hired communications director, who has tried to foster a relationship with Ms. Trump by helping her with her news media strategy.
On Saturday, Mr. Kelly did not attend the Army-Navy game with the president, who stood on the field for the singing of the national anthem with Jim Mattis, the defense secretary, by his side. Watching the first half of the game from the Army stands, the president was then joined by Gen. Mark A. Milley, whom he had announced on Twitter on Saturday morning as his nominee to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.