Donald Trump’s top pick to replace outgoing chief of staff John Kelly said Sunday he didn’t want the job, leaving the president scrambling to find someone else to manage his White House.
A day after Trump announced Kelly’s departure, Nick Ayers, the current chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said he too was exiting the White House to return to his home state of Georgia where he is expected to run a pro-Trump super PAC.
The decision reportedly came as a surprise as Ayers had been lobbying for the job for months, boosted by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who both clashed with Kelly. Ayers had discussed the position with Trump on numerous occasions in his private residence, Axios reported.
However, there was some concern among senior administration officials about Pence’s top man filling the position due to his lack of experience at the highest level of government.
Ayers could not agree to a two-year commitment and only wanted to stay in the job on an interim basis, leaving in the spring, so Trump would need to find a permanent replacement, multiple outlets reported Sunday.
A press release announcing Ayers as Kelly’s replacement had already been drafted and Trump wanted to announce the appointment as soon as possible, The New York Times reported.
Trump disputed reports Sunday that Ayers had been his first pick, adding that he was interviewing “some really great people” for the position and that he “will be making a decision soon.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is reportedly in line for the job, but sources speaking to CNBC said Mnuchin believes he is better suited to his current role.
Rep. Mark Meadows, the leader of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, has also been touted. Trump has been privately canvassing senior officials and friends about the possibility of appointing Meadows, according to Axios.
Trump is also reportedly considering White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, and U.S. trade representative Bob Lighthizer.
No one has yet to link former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci to the role.
Cover image: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens to US President Donald Trump during a working lunch with governors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, on June 21, 2018. ((OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images)