Donald Trump isn’t getting his first choice to replace John Kelly in the impossible, ugly job of Trump chief of staff. Nick Ayers, Mike Pence’s chief of staff, won’t be taking the job, leaving Trump scrambling not just to find a replacement candidate but to save face:
The president on Sunday disputed news reports that he had settled on Mr. Ayers as his pick. “I am in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff,” he said on Twitter. “Fake News has been saying with certainty it was Nick Ayers, a spectacular person who will always be with our #MAGA agenda. I will be making a decision soon!”
But two people close to Mr. Trump said that a news release announcing Mr. Ayers’s appointment had been drafted, and that the president had wanted to announce it as soon as possible.
Ayers says he’s going home to Georgia with his family, which includes three young children, and he will reportedly work on a pro-Trump super PAC. It’s not just the young kids, though:
Ayers was also skeptical of taking the job based on the challenges that Kelly and his predecessor, Reince Priebus, faced in the position, and talks between the two sides broke down, according to an administration official with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
Ayers, 36, also had faced opposition among many senior White House aides, who worried that his elevation could trigger departures of other high-level staff members.
It doesn’t take a wild leap of the imagination to wonder how much of a role the looming legal threats to Trump played in Ayers’ decision, either.
Trump is now reported to be considering some of his administration’s top sycophants, including budget director Mick Mulvaney, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, and Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, as well as House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows.
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