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Letter Accepting the Resignation of John H. Sununu as Chief of Staff to the President

December 03, 1991

Dear John,

I now have your letter resigning as Chief of Staff effective December 15th. It is with reluctance, regret and a sense of personal loss that I accept your resignation as Chief of Staff.

I am very pleased, however, that you have agreed to remain as a Counsellor to the President, with Cabinet rank, through March 1, 1992.

During the period, December 15th to March 1, you will be an official member of my administration and I will continue to seek your counsel on the important issues facing our country.

John, I find it very difficult to write this letter both for professional reasons and for personal reasons.

On the professional side, thanks to your leadership we have made significant accomplishments for which you deserve great credit.

Working with others here in the White House, throughout the administration, and on Capitol Hill, you have played a major role in achieving some of our significant goals.

I will not attempt to list each legislative achievement for which you deserve an awful lot of personal credit. Having said that, your adherence to principle and your endless hours at the negotiating table were clearly instrumental in achieving good Clean Air Legislation; the ADA Bill and the Civil Rights Act of 91, both of which moved this country forward in a sensible way; groundbreaking Child Care legislation that strengthened the principle of family choice; and a budget agreement that for the first time in history put real enforceable caps on discretionary government spending. For all of this and much, much more, I am very grateful to you.

In your letter, you generously mention my family and our personal relationship. The longer I serve as President the more importance I place on true friendships -- friendships tested by fire and time. Ours is such a friendship. Barbara feels this way. Our four sons feel this way and so of course does Dorothy.

You have never wavered in your loyalty to us and more importantly, your loyalty to the principles and goals of this administration. You have indeed helped with the issues and you have intercepted many of the "arrows" aimed my way.

Thank you from the bottom of my grateful heart for your distinguished service. I look forward to working with you in the future, first as Counsellor inside government and then as a trusted advisor outside government.

And, yes, from my vantage point and our families as well, the friendship we treasure is stronger than ever.

I hope you and Nancy, free of the enormous pressures of the office you have served so well, will enjoy life to its fullest. You deserve the best.

Most sincerely from this grateful President,

George Bush

Dear Mr. President,

A little over three years ago you asked me to be your Chief of Staff. I eagerly and appreciatively accepted.

Over these years it has been one of the most gratifying and satisfying experiences of my life to serve a President whom I admire, respect and will always consider a dear friend.

These have been amazing times for the world and the nation; they have been exciting and thrilling times for me. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of it.

But most of all, from a purely personal perspective, I want to thank you for the fun we have had these last three years. In a way that will be very difficult for historians to capture, this White House was an unbelievably "fun place" to work. You, the Vice President, Scowcroft, Gates and I proved we could do very serious things well without taking the process or ourselves too seriously. I believe that chemistry, friendship, caring and irreverence was a singularly unique period for the Oval office, probably impossible ever to replicate. You were just great to let us do it that way.

I must also take this opportunity to tell you again how proud I am of the White House staff you allowed me to put together. They will eventually be recognized as the most talented, mutually supportive, cooperative team ever to serve a President. In fact, one of the challenges ahead of us will be to make very clear the significance of all you and they have accomplished in the domestic area as well as in foreign policy.

I have always said I wanted to serve as Chief of Staff as long as I could contribute to your success and help deal effectively with both the issues and the arrows. Until recently I was convinced that even with the distorted perceptions being created, I could be a strong contributor to your efforts and success.

But in politics, especially during the seasons of a political campaign, perceptions that can be effectively dealt with at other times, can be -- and will be -- converted into real political negatives. And I would never want to not be contributing positively, much less be a drag on your success. Therefore, as we enter the contentious climate of a political campaign, I believe it is in your best interest for me to resign as Chief of Staff to the President of the United States effective December 15, 1991.

As much as I will truly miss the opportunity to continue to work in the West Wing with you and my other friends there, I want you to know how strong and positive and upbeat I feel about doing this. I think you know that the responsibility and authority (contrary to the legends out there) never meant as much to me as the chance to assist you to be (and to be recognized) a great President. I intend to continue that effort as an ordinary citizen, with all the benefits that accrue to man and family in the private sector of our magnificent system.

I assure you that in pit bull mode or pussey cat mode (your choice, as always) I am ready to help.

I also want to thank Barbara and all the Bush clan for being such wonderful friends and strong supporters even during the toughest of days. Nancy and I and our family will always remember and cherish that kindness and friendship. I hope we will all have a chance to share a few laughs over the holidays.

Thanks again for the privilege of serving you and this wonderful country. It really has been great!!!

Sincerely and respectfully,

John H. Sununu

Note: These letters were made available by the Office of the Press Secretary but were not issued as White House press releases.

George Bush, Letter Accepting the Resignation of John H. Sununu as Chief of Staff to the President Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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