President Trump’s plans to replace his Chief of Staff John Kelly with Nick Ayers, the former Trump campaign consultant who went on to become Vice-President Pence’s Chief of Staff, exploded in his face today when White House sources admitted that the deal fell apart after Ayers and the president couldn’t agree on the amount of time Ayers would be willing to serve in the position, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal this morning.
As ambitious as Ayers is considered to be in Washington circles, he told Trump that, out of concern for his family life, he would only be willing to serve until the end of March 2019, a period the president ultimately felt would be not long enough to serve his own best interests, the paramount factor in any decision that Trump makes.
As the 36-year-old father of 6-year-old triplets, Ayers has a convenient excuse not to step into a job that would place him at the center of a maelstrom surrounding the president at a time when the latest revelations from Special Counsel Robert Mueller are making Trump’s impeachment or indictment (or both) increasingly likely.
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With so many people connected to the administration feeling the need to hire personal lawyers to protect themselves from the fallout of aiding and abetting a criminal administration, conventional wisdom is that Ayers is dodging a bullet by setting limitations that disqualified him for Trump’s Chief of Staff job.
Given that the current occupant of the position, John Kelly, is reportedly not on speaking terms with the president and is set to leave by the end of the month, Trump has little time left to find a new candidate to replace him.
The administration has been said to be having difficulty finding qualified replacements for departing staff members because of the fear that prospective candidates have of being caught up in the many scandals surrounding the White House and of having their resumes besmirched by an association with the rapidly sinking Trump administration.
“It’s a potentially career-ending move. You become toxic to corporate America, and it’s not clear how you make money after serving in the Trump administration, especially in a high-level role,” one Republican political operative told CNN.
The Wall Street Journal says that White House officials involved with the search for a replacement couldn’t reply with any certainty whether the next staff chief would come from inside or outside the administration.
Speculation in Washington, however, is leaning towards Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget who was already tapped to also be Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by Trump last year.
Whoever replaces the current Chief of Staff, however, chances are good that they will be less of “the adult in the room” that everyone had hoped Kelly would be and more of the fawning “can-do” yes-man type for the president that he loves to surround himself with.
Only those with a high degree of masochism need apply.
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Original reporting by Michael C. Bender at The Wall Street Journal.