Report: Trump Quietly Narrows Down Search for Kelly Replacement
Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina has reportedly risen to the top of the list of potential replacements for outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly.
Axios reported, based on “three sources with direct knowledge,” that President Donald Trump has been asking confidants what they think of Meadows.
He has mentioned three other candidates besides Meadows, according to the news outlet.
The New York Times reported that others believed to be in the mix include White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, United States trade representative Robert Lighthizer, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Meadows and Mulvaney would both bring their experience and relationships as members of Congress to the job, which tends to involve a lot of interfacing with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Trump tweeted on Sunday evening, “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!”
Ayers, who currently serves as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, was thought to be the frontrunner for chief of staff following Saturday’s announcement that Kelly would be leaving at the end of the year.
However, the 36-year-old took himself out of contention, “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.”
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
The Times reported that Ayers plans to return to his native Georgia with his wife and three young children. The paper further indicated he was only willing to serve on a short-term interim basis and may seek to run for office himself.
Meadows has signaled he is interested in taking the chief of staff job.
“Serving as Chief of Staff would be an incredible honor. The President has a long list of qualified candidates and I know he’ll make the best selection for his administration and for the country,” Meadows told Politico’s Playbook.
NEWS in Playbook PM … MARK MEADOWS tells me it would be “an incredible honor” to be W.H. chief of staff. https://t.co/wthb8sSJDM pic.twitter.com/Unlu9bFnjK
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) December 10, 2018
The Daily Caller reported, “The president has also developed a strong working relationship with Meadows in his position as the House Freedom Caucus chairman.
“Meadows has also served as a forceful critic of special counsel Robert Mueller and has called for continued inquiry into the past FBI probe of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”
Meadows, 59, has been a member of Congress since 2013.
Some high profile former White House chiefs of staff who have served in Congress first include Rahm Emanuel under Barack Obama, Leon Panetta for Bill Clinton, and Howard Baker with Ronald Reagan.
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