The search for a new White House Chief of Staff continues after frontrunner Nick Ayers turned the job down, citing a desire to spend more time with his three young children in Georgia.
Now, four top contenders are reportedly on the short list: Outgoing House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Ayers — who has been chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence since July 2017 — will leave the administration at the end of 2018 to work for a pro-Trump super PAC that will aid his 2020 re-election efforts.
President Trump reportedly wanted Ayers to commit to a two-year stint, but he was unable to, saying he wanted to spend time with his three small children back home.
Ayers, 36, said he was grateful to be considered for the position, and remains firmly on the Trump train. “I will be departing at the end of the year, but will work with the MAGA team to advance the cause,” Ayers tweeted.
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 tweeted that he will make a decision soon to replace outgoing Chief of Staff John Kelly, who will leave at the end of December following a 17-month tenure.
Predictably, anti-Trump pundits pushed unconfirmed rumors about why Nick Ayers turned the job down.
New York Post columnist John Podhoretz — a “Never Trump” conservative — suggested that Ayers wanted to leave the Trump administration before the storm hits. Podhoretz never spoke to Ayers and admitted he doesn’t know anything for certain.
“I don’t know Nick Ayers,” Podhoretz told MSNBC. “I’m not saying he’s a liar, but people don’t get offered the White House chief of staff job very often. He was the vice president’s chief of staff. This is the center of the action. This is the red-hot center of world politics and world power. And he is going back to Georgia after being the chief of staff to the less important guy? I am not buying it.”
Or maybe Ayers just doesn’t want to be viciously smeared by the media with false accusations — like Justice Brett Kavanaugh was — just because he’s part of the Trump administration.
While the media have hyped John Kelly’s departure as a sign of unusually high turnover in the Trump White House, they ignored that Barack Obama went through four WH chiefs of staff during his first term.
And unlike John Kelly — who served 17 months — Obama’s chiefs of staff during his first term all lasted a year or less:
- Rahm Emanuel (January 2009 – October 2010)
- Pete Rouse (Interim: October 2010 – January 2011)
- Bill Daley (January 2011 – January 2012)
- Jack Lew (January 2012 to January 2013)
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