US President Donald Trump in new setback as Pence aide Nick Ayers turns down chief of staff role
- Current chief of staff to Mike Pence tweeted his thanks to the president, but said he would be leaving at the end of the year
A bad week for Donald Trump ended with the news that his first choice to replace John Kelly as White House chief of staff will not take the role.
On Sunday Nick Ayers, currently chief of staff to Mike Pence, tweeted his thanks to Trump, the vice-president “and my great colleagues for the honour 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.”
Kelly’s departure, long expected, had been trailed through a week of political drama in which Trump announced new picks for attorney general, UN ambassador and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and weathered damaging developments in the Mueller investigation into his links with Russia.
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
On Saturday, the president told reporters at the White House Kelly would leave by the end of the year. On Sunday, citing unnamed White House officials, The Wall Street Journal and other outlets said Trump and Ayers had failed to agree on terms.
Ayers, 36, is the father of young triplets and has reportedly long planned to leave the administration at the end of this year and return to his home in Georgia. The Journal reported that he had not been able to commit to the White House job beyond the spring of 2019. Citing an anonymous source, the Associated Press said Ayers would now run a pro-Trump group.
The Journal and other outlets had reported that Trump’s preference for Ayers, reportedly an ally of the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kusher, had caused dissent in the West Wing.
Trump is reported to want a chief of staff – his third, after former Republican National Commitee chair Reince Priebus and Kelly, a retired Marines Corps general – in place through to the 2020 election.
Priebus and Kelly both struggled to impose order on an impetuous president and an unruly, factionalised White House.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, budget director Mick Mulvaney and US trade representative Robert Lighthizer were other possible choices to be chief of staff.