Getty Images/AFP/Saul Loeb
Now playing
01:33
Sources: McMaster, Kelly poised to depart soon
Pat Cipollone close up
Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner LLP
Pat Cipollone close up
Now playing
02:10
Meet Trump's new White House counsel
John Bolton and John Kelly
Getty Images
John Bolton and John Kelly
Now playing
02:12
Bolton, Kelly get into heated shouting match
US President Donald Trump prepares to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on October 1, 2018.
MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump prepares to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on October 1, 2018.
Now playing
02:35
Trump administration dismisses EPA scientists
Donald Trump welcomes retired United States Marine Corps general James Mattis as they pose for a photo before their meeting at Trump International Golf Club, November 19, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Donald Trump welcomes retired United States Marine Corps general James Mattis as they pose for a photo before their meeting at Trump International Golf Club, November 19, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey.
Now playing
02:44
Trump: James Mattis is 'sort of a Democrat'
Now playing
01:27
Sanders: 'Sad' that op-ed is getting attention
Sonny Perdue, President TrumpÕs nominee to lead the Agriculture Department, takes his seat as he arrives for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry on Capitol Hill, March 23, 2017 in Washington. Previously, Perdue served as the governor of Gerogia from 2003 to 2011. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Sonny Perdue, President TrumpÕs nominee to lead the Agriculture Department, takes his seat as he arrives for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry on Capitol Hill, March 23, 2017 in Washington. Previously, Perdue served as the governor of Gerogia from 2003 to 2011. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:02
Emails reveal food lobbyist influence on USDA
US.President Donald Trump departs the White House July 31, 2018 in Washington, DC (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images
US.President Donald Trump departs the White House July 31, 2018 in Washington, DC (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:03
Trump team suggests ACLU find deported parents
President Donald Trump speaks during a rally, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes Barre, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/AP
President Donald Trump speaks during a rally, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes Barre, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Now playing
02:16
Trump slams probe 'hoax' despite intel warning
John Kelly answers questions during a press conference related to President Donald Trump's recent executive order concerning travel and refugees, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
John Kelly answers questions during a press conference related to President Donald Trump's recent executive order concerning travel and refugees, January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
00:57
Trump asked John Kelly to stay through 2020
US candidate to the head of International Organization for Migration (IOM) Ken Isaacs looks on during a press briefing on March 19, 2018 in Geneva.
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
US candidate to the head of International Organization for Migration (IOM) Ken Isaacs looks on during a press briefing on March 19, 2018 in Geneva.
Now playing
00:32
Trump's pick for UN migration job voted down
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images/File
Now playing
01:59
Trump appointee guts UN document on racism
Bill Shine, left, and President Donald Trump
Getty Images
Bill Shine, left, and President Donald Trump
Now playing
00:51
Former Fox News executive takes White House job
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Las Vegas City Hall on October 7, 2017.
Ethan Miller/Getty
Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Las Vegas City Hall on October 7, 2017.
Now playing
02:34
Genealogist: Chain migration helped Pence family
getty images/dpa/ap
Now playing
02:57
Vets call on WH to fire aide over crude joke
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly awaits fthe start of a jobs creation pledge event in the East Room of the White House July 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly awaits fthe start of a jobs creation pledge event in the East Room of the White House July 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:08
Kelly retracts comment Trump is 'embarrassed'
(CNN) —  

President Donald Trump signaled on Tuesday he’s prepared to dismiss aides with whom he’s clashed – including national security adviser H.R. McMaster – as he works to surround himself with advisers more aligned with his populist agenda and freewheeling style.

Inside the West Wing, McMaster appeared poised to soon depart following months of speculation about his standing, people familiar with the matter said.

The shakeups come as Trump enters the second year of his presidency buoyed by economic successes but weighed down by external distractions like the Russia investigation and ethics blunders by members of his Cabinet.

Outside advisers to the President have also felt out potential candidates to replace chief of staff John Kelly, a person who has been approached about the position tells CNN. Kelly’s departure is seen as less imminent than McMaster’s, and Trump publicly praised his chief of staff on stage in California on Tuesday.

Trump has grown irritated with his embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and is now making plans to remove him from his post, two sources familiar with the move told CNN. He’s eyed Energy Secretary Rick Perry as a possible replacement, a person familiar with the matter said.

Earlier, Trump told reporters at the White House he was nearing his staffing ideal.

“I’m really at a point where we’re getting very close to having the Cabinet and other things that I want,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn on Tuesday, moments after announcing he was ousting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

A senior administration official said a further shake-up of senior staff could happen as soon as this week. Other officials suggested a longer timeline, saying Trump could execute changes over the course of the next two months.

The White House didn’t respond on Tuesday when asked about McMaster’s standing, and last week press secretary Sarah Sanders said only that “the President’s national security adviser is General McMaster.”

“He’s a valued member of the President’s team and an important part of this process,” Sanders said on Friday.

Time is running short

Inside the White House, speculation has mounted that McMaster’s time is running short. But the timing of any potential departures has been tightly held, leading to a sense that Trump could tweet at any moment – without forewarning – to make personnel changes.

A spokesman for the National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Aides highlighted Trump’s mention on Tuesday of Tillerson’s opposition to scrapping the Iran nuclear deal, a position he shared with McMaster. McMaster helped develop the plan unveiled last year that punted the Iran deal to Congress. Like Tillerson, he has been opposed to withdrawing the US from the plan, but has pressured European allies to make changes to the agreement brokered during the Obama administration.

Current candidates under consideration to replace McMaster include Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush; Oracle executive Safra Catz; National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers; and Stephen Biegun, a vice president at Ford Motors and a former senior staff member in the George W. Bush administration.

Bolton has met personally with the President several times, including during an Oval Office meeting last week. He has maintained his heavy presence on Fox News over the past week, including over the weekend and last night, praising Trump’s decision on North Korea and even encouraging a speedier timeline for talks with Kim Jong Un.

Kelly watch

Meanwhile, some allies of the President have begun identifying potential replacements for Kelly, whose strict management style has clashed with Trump’s more freewheeling preferences. It’s not clear, however, that Trump himself has held formal conversations with possible chief of staff candidates.

Officials said there is no solid sense of how long Kelly will last in the West Wing, where he’s brushed up against members of Trump’s family, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Kelly traveled with Trump on Tuesday to California, and was by the President’s side for most of the day as he toured prototypes for a border wall. </