President Trump announced on Saturday that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will be leaving the administration by the year’s end. The new is not surprising. The president has already jettisoned dozens of top officials, and it had long been rumored that Trump and Kelly’s relationship had soured. Nick Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, had been Trump’s top choice to replace Kelly. According to the New York Times, the White House had even drafted a press release announcing Ayers’ appointment. On Sunday, however, Ayers announced that he, too, will be leaving the administration at the end of the year. “Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @VP, and my great colleagues for the honor to serve our Nation at The White House,” he wrote. “I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause #Georgia.”
Trump blamed the Fake News.
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
Ayers’ departure has put the White House in a difficult position as, according to the Times, Trump had “no obvious second option” for the critical job. The new list of potential candidates hasn’t been inspiring, and several of the officials who have been linked to the position have rebuffed the suggestion that they might be interested. Among those who reportedly aren’t tripping over themselves to replace Kelly are Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
NEW: A source close to Mulvaney tells me he is no longer interested in COS job, Mnuchin and Lighthizer sending out same signals…. list of potential replacements for Kelly shrinking by the hour.
— Nancy Cook (@nancook) December 10, 2018
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), one of the Trump’s most enthusiastic defenders in Congress, has also been mentioned. Kelly was criticized for lacking the political savvy necessary to manage the White House, and Meadows would ostensibly be able to help the president navigate the onslaught of congressional investigations expected to be launched once Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in January. He also seems interested in the job. “Serving as Chief of Staff would be an incredible honor,” he told Politico. “The President has a long list of qualified candidates and I know he’ll make the best selection for his administration and for the country.”
According to NBC News, Trump’s “long list of qualified candidates” includes Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general with a Trump-ian penchant for fraud; David Bossie, Trump’s deputy campaign manager in 2016; and Randy Levine, the president of the New York Yankees. Levine served under both Ronald Reagan and Rudy Giuliani, but is long removed from politics outside of contributing the occasional opinion piece to Newsmax. Last November, he wrote a column criticizing Trump’s tax reform plan. “The good news is there is still time to fix it and make it better and more efficient,” the baseball executive wrote. “But as Yogi Berra said, Mr. President, ‘it is getting late early.'”
Levine has already thrown water on the idea that he would relocate to Washington. “I have spoken to nobody about the chief of staff job,” he told Fox News. “I have great respect for the president but am very happy being president of the Yankees.”
Regardless of who takes the role, it will be Trump’s third chief of staff in less than two years. This probably isn’t a good sign, as the president himself pointed out back in 2012.
3 Chief of Staffs in less than 3 years of being President: Part of the reason why @BarackObama can't manage to pass his agenda.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 10, 2012
There’s a tweet for everything.