Another Chief Of Staff Candidate Bites The Dust

With respect to the search for a new White House chief of staff, it’s another one down and another one gone. Another potential candidate for the job bit the dust as Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) was removed from consideration.

“Congressman Mark Meadows is a great friend to President Trump and is doing an incredible job in Congress,” a White House official told the Wall Street Journal. “The president told him we need him in Congress so he can continue the great work he is doing there.”

Meadows, a close political ally of the president and chair of the House Freedom Caucus, said in a statement, “I know the President has a long list of tremendous candidates for his next Chief of Staff, and whomever it is will have my total support moving forward.”

Rumors began to swirl last week that John Kelly, the current chief of staff, would be leaving soon to be replaced by Nick Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Pence. President Trump told reporters on Saturday that Kelly would be leaving “at the end of the year,” but Ayers turned down the job, saying he wanted to return to his home in Georgia.

There was apparently no Plan B if Ayers didn’t take the job. In the days following Ayers’ decision, a number of high-profile Republican names have been floated for the job, only to back away. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum have all announced publicly that they are not interested in the position.

Amid reports that the president was so toxic that no one wanted the job, which would be in close proximity to the Oval Office, Trump tweeted on Tuesday, “Many, over ten, are vying for and wanting the White House Chief of Staff position. Why wouldn’t someone want one of the truly great and meaningful jobs in Washington. [sic]”

Despite the president’s assurances that candidates for the chief of staff job are lined up outside the White House, there are indications that Kelly may stay on the job into the new year. Also on Tuesday, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News that there was a possibility that Kelly might stay in the job beyond Jan. 2.

Several other possible candidates for the job remain. These include Steven Mnuchin, currently the Secretary of the Treasury, who has indicated that he prefers his current position. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and David Bossie, a former Trump campaign aide make up the best of the rest of the list.

A major hurdle for people who want the job is getting approval from Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Politico reports that the president’s daughter and son-in-law, who are also White House advisors, are exercising their considerable influence with the president to veto some candidates. Kelly’s rivalry with the couple may have hastened his departure and now they want the new chief of staff to be an ally.

“Kelly was the last one they wanted out,” a former White House official said. “Now it’s not just the president who needs to sign off on” his next chief of staff. “It’s Jared and Ivanka. They have a big voice.”

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David Thornton

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