Pence aide Nick Ayers declines Trump's offer of chief of staff
Nick Ayers, chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence, has declined Donald Trump's offer to succeed John Kelly as White House chief of staff.
Ayers was negotiating with Trump his time of service. He wanted to hold the position only through the spring and then return to Georgia to be with his family. Trump wanted a commitment of at least two years. In the end, Ayers announced he is leaving the White House entirely by year's end.
Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House. I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause. 🇺🇸 #Georgia— Nick Ayers (@nick_ayers) December 9, 2018
Trump said Saturday that he expected to announce a replacement for Kelly in a day or two, and it was not immediately clear whether he had a new favorite for the post.
Sources told Fox News on Sunday evening there have been "conversations" about Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., becoming chief of staff. Meadows serves as chairman of the influential House Freedom Caucus.
Trump reportedly is considering four candidates for the post, including Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, The Associated Press added.
Sunday night, Trump took a potshot at the media, while also tweeting his next steps: "I am in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff. 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!"
Trump had developed confidence in Ayers, in part by watching the effectiveness of Pence's largely independent political operation. Ayers also earned the backing of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president's daughter and son-in-law and senior advisers, for taking on the new role, White House officials said.
Jared and Ivanka had been whispering in the president's ear for months to get rid of Kelly. That Trump finally pulled the trigger is a sign that the president knew that Kelly's effectiveness was at an end.
It doesn't really matter. Donald Trump has made it clear he would rather be his own chief of staff. He doesn't want to be managed. He doesn't want to be constrained. Trump wants to be Trump, and no chief of staff is going to get in the way of that.
There has been speculation that Ayers didn't want to take on the White House job because of what many see as a turbulent next few months at the White House. Plus Trump is not the easiest boss to work for. But any chief of staff can pretty much write his own ticket after he leaves. I'm sure Ayers would have put up with Trump's quirks and the possibility of legal trouble for the president if it meant being that close to the seat of power in government.
Mulvaney would be a good pick. He's been OMB director since Trump took office and not only is competent, but knows the ins and outs of Washington as well. He is low-key and a loyalist – two attributes that would be useful to the president after all the controversies in the last two years.
Remember the name Nick Ayers. He's only 36 and will almost certainly be back in Washington someday.