Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Nick Ayers won’t be Trump’s chief of staff, White House official says

President will decide on who will take up the crucial role in his administration by end of the year

Nick Ayers (left), chief of staff to vice president Mike Pence, and White House chief of staff John Kelly. REUTERS
Nick Ayers (left), chief of staff to vice president Mike Pence, and White House chief of staff John Kelly. REUTERS

Top vice-presidential aide Nick Ayers will not take over from John Kelly when the White House chief of staff steps down toward the end of the year.

Among those whom Mr Trump is actively weighing, or has mentioned as possibilities, are acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, budget director Mick Mulvaney and Republican Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, according to several people familiar with the matter. Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin isn’t being considered at the moment, the people said.

Mr Ayers and president Donald Trump weren’t able to agree on a plan for Mr Ayers to stay in the job for two years as the president wanted, the official said on Sunday. Mr Ayers had said he could stay in the job for no more than three or four months because he promised his family he would return to Georgia, two White House officials said earlier.

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The president will decide on a chief of staff by end of the year, said another person familiar with the matter.

The White House official said Mr Ayers, now chief of staff to vice president Mike Pence, will help oversee political operations for the president’s 2020 campaign, and his duties may include running a pro-Trump super-PAC. He’ll work from his home state, the official said.

“I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause,” Mr Ayers wrote on Twitter.

Mr Ayers had emerged as a frontrunner to replace Mr Kelly and was reported to have had months of discussions with the president, including recent travel on Air Force One.

Mr Trump announced on Saturday that Mr Kelly, 68, a retired Marine general and who was also homeland security secretary, would depart toward the end of the year.

Mr Kelly replaced Reince Priebus in July 2017 with the mission of imposing order in the White House. He had some early successes and was often labeled one of the “grown-ups” whose job was to keep the increasingly frenetic president in check.

But his relationship with the president, Mr Trump’s family and some advisers soured as they came to view him as too rigid. Mr Trump increasingly bypassed Mr Kelly to talk to old friends and outside advisers, tweet or make tactical moves against the latter’s advice.

Mr Trump earlier this year asked Mr Kelly to remain as his chief of staff through the remainder of his first term, but the signs of tension between the two men had grown in recent months.

Mr Kelly’s departure will come as the Democrats’ takeover of the House of Representatives and the new revelations from Robert Mueller’s Russia probe are emboldening Mr Trump’s political opposition.

Updated: December 10, 2018 03:35 AM

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