Donald Trump’s expected replacement chief of staff Nick Ayers opts to leave the White House – Donald Trump’s America
The man expected to be Donald Trump’s next chief of staff has turned down the job, according to US media reports.
Nick Ayers, 36, has been chief of staff to US Vice-President Mike Pence and was thought to be the frontrunner to take up the role for the US President, with the pair having have held discussions about the job for months, according to a White House official.
He would have replaced John Kelly who will leave by the end of the year amid an expected West Wing reshuffle reflecting a focus on the 2020 re-election campaign and the challenge of governing with Democrats reclaiming control of the House.
But The New York Times reported Mr Ayers — who has young triplets and had planned to leave the White House this month — told the President he would only perform the job temporarily through the US spring.
Mr Trump had wanted a two-year commitment, a White House official said, and Mr Ayers was forced to decline the role, the New York Times reported.
In a tweet, Mr Ayers confirmed his exit from the White House.
“I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause,” he said.
Citing an administration official with direct knowledge of the negotiations, The Washington Post reported Mr Ayers was reluctant to take the job because of challenges faced by Mr Kelly and his predecessor, Reince Priebus, while in the position.
Mr Trump took to Twitter on Monday to deny Mr Ayers was certain to take the role.
“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,” he said.
Sources told Reuters Mr Ayers would join a political action committee, assisting the President from outside the administration.
The President is now considering current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Republican Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, one source said.
A source told AP the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, was under consideration.
Mr Trump will decide on his new chief of staff by the end of the year, sources said.
John Kelly was credited with bringing order to a chaotic White House. (Reuters: Kevin Lamarque)
Trump needs someone ‘to tell him what he does not want to hear’
A photogenic Georgia native, Mr Ayers has spent his entire career in Republican politics.
In addition to being Mr Pence’s chief of staff, he has advised a series of high-profile Republican governors.
Before Mr Ayers’s announcement he was out of the running for the job, Chris Whipple, who wrote a book on White House chiefs of staff called The Gatekeepers, said he was sceptical Mr Ayers had enough clout to be effective as Mr Trump’s chief of staff.
“I think Donald Trump desperately needs in that job someone who can walk into the Oval Office, close the door, and tell him what he does not want to hear,” Whipple said.
“I’m not sure he [Ayers] has the gravitas to do that.”
Mr Kelly won credit for imposing some degree of order on the White House but he struggled with Mr Trump’s habit of throwing the focus off-course with rogue tweets and personal attacks, including against members of his own administration and party.
“The question is going to be whether a new chief of staff can have the same kind of gravitas that John [Kelly] did, which is the ability to stop the wrong decision from being made,” said Leon Panetta, who was chief of staff for former president Bill Clinton from 1994 to 1997, and later became CIA director and secretary of defence in the Obama administration.
Even the best counsel will matter little unless Mr Trump trusts his new chief of staff and will listen to frank advice, Mr Panetta said.
“You’re not going to be a good chief of staff if you can’t speak truth to power … I don’t get the impression that this President particularly likes people speaking truth to him.”