White House revolving door: Trump begins search for next chief of staff
Donald Trump has been evaluating new candidates to serve as his next chief of staff after plans for an orderly succession for departing John Kelly fell through.
The new hire was to be key to a West Wing reshuffle to shift focus toward the 2020 re-election campaign and the challenge of governing with Democrats in control of the House.
But even senior White House officials were caught off guard on Sunday when Mr Trump and Nick Ayers, whose hiring was believed to be a done deal, could not come to terms.
No obvious successor was in sight and there was some fretting that Mr Trump may not be able to fill the job by the time Mr Kelly was set to leave around the end of the year.
Mr Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, was seen as the favourite for the job when Mr Trump announced Saturday that Mr Kelly would step down.
But a White House official said on Sunday that Mr Trump and Mr Ayers could not reach agreement on Mr Ayers' length of service and that he would instead assist the president from outside the administration.
Mr Ayers confirmed the decision in a tweet, thanking Mr Trump and Mr Pence for giving him the opportunity to work in 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.
In a tweet of his own, Mr Trump laid out the agenda: "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!"
With Mr Ayers out of the running, Mr Trump was considering four candidates for the post, including Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney.
Also emerging as a candidate was Representative Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican and chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.