In this June 21, 2018 photo, White House chief of staff John Kelly listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a lunch with governors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Pence aide out of running to be Trump's next chief of staff

December 09, 2018 - 4:49 pm
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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's top pick to replace chief of staff John Kelly, Nick Ayers, is no longer expected to fill the role.

Ayers, who is chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, was seen as the favorite for the job when Trump announced Saturday that Kelly would leave around year's end. But a White House official said Sunday that Trump and Ayers could not reach agreement on Ayers' length of service and that he would instead assist the president from outside the administration.

It was not immediately clear whether Trump had a new favorite for the post. The official was not authorized to discuss the personnel issue by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

RELATED: Trump says chief of staff John Kelly will leave his job at end of the year

Ayers and Trump had discussed the job for months. The new hire was to be key to a West Wing reshuffling to shift focus toward the 2020 re-election campaign and the challenge of governing with Democrats in control of the House.

The official said that Trump and Ayers could not agree on his length of service. Trump wants his next chief of staff to hold the job through the 2020 election. Ayers, who has young triplets, had long planned to leave the administration at the end of the year, and had only agreed to serve in an interim basis through next spring.

Ayers instead will be leaving the administration to run a pro-Trump super PAC, according to a person familiar with his plans who was not authorized to discuss them by name.

Trump said Saturday that he expected to announce a replacement for Kelly in a day or two.

With Ayers out of the running, Trump is considering four candidates for the post, including Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, according to a person familiar with the president's thinking. He is to make a decision by the end of the year, said the person, was not authorized to discuss the personnel issue by name.

Kelly's last day on the job is set to be Jan. 2.

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