Posted: 5:02 pm Sunday, December 9th, 2018
By Jamie Dupree
A day after announcing that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would be leaving his post, President Donald Trump’s plan to shift the Vice President’s Chief of Staff into the job collapsed on Sunday, as a White House official told reporters that the President had been unable to reach a deal with Pence aide Nick Ayers, leaving Mr. Trump to look for another choice.
Ayers had been talked about for weeks as Kelly’s replacement, as the President’s relationship with his Chief of Staff worsened in recent months; but White House official told reporters Sunday that Ayers only wanted to serve on an interim basis into early 2019, an idea that the President ultimately rejected.
Ayers indicated via Twitter on Sunday afternoon that he would be leaving his post with Pence in coming weeks, but will be working to advance the goals of the Trump Administration from an outside post.
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
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2018
Speculation immediately shifted to a key Trump ally in the Congress, as Axios reported that Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the head of the House Freedom Caucus, and a staunch defender of the President, was a possible replacement for John Kelly.
The President announced on Saturday that Kelly would be leaving his post in coming weeks, capping months of reports that the two men had routinely feuded, as Kelly tried to rein in some of the more impulsive habits of the President.
“John Kelly will be leaving toward the end of the year,” the President told reporters on Saturday as he left the White House for the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.
The President referred to Kelly as ‘a great guy,’ in his short remarks, as he predicted a replacement would be named in the ‘next day or two.’
But on Sunday, that plan seemed to fall apart, as Ayers indicated he wanted to stay on at the White House only for a short period of time.
Along with Meadows, two other names were being floated as possible replacements for Kelly – acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, and GOP political operative David Bossie.
— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) December 10, 2018
President Trump’s first Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, served until the end of July 2017, and was replaced by Kelly, who had been the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.