President Donald Trump on Tuesday lashed out at media reports claiming that he was having difficulty finding a successor to outgoing Chief of Staff John Kelly.
“Fake News has it purposely wrong,” Trump said via Twitter. “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. Please report news correctly. Thank you!”
Fake News has it purposely wrong. 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. Please report news correctly. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018
Trump’s ire was stoked by a spate of reports that Trump was becoming desperate after he offered the job to Nick Ayers, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, who turned it down.
The Washington Post, for example, reported that Trump “had no Plan B” after Ayers turned down the job. It cited sources it did not name. The Post account also repeated a litany of administration officials who other various sources reported could possibly get the job, and said none wanted it.
The New York Times, which also seized upon the “no Plan B” theme, went even further, with its unnamed sources portraying Ayers as the candidate of Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, and Jared Kushner, her husband. Both work as advisers to the president.
“Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner’s efforts on behalf of Mr. Ayers were widely seen as a coup attempt, started on behalf of a president who was unhappy with Mr. Kelly but could not bring himself to fire him. Mr. Ayers’s rejection of the offer stunned the couple, who had long resisted Mr. Kelly’s attempt to bend them to a traditional White House hierarchy,” the Times wrote.
It said that for Ivanka Trump and Kushner “the debacle amounts to a survivable setback. And the couple are now back to assessing a last-ditch list of possible candidates.”
Politico also portrayed a process in disarray. Illustrating the extent to which names are circulating of individuals who have no interest in the job, Politico included a comment from New York Yankees President Randy Levine, whose name was mentioned along with dozens of others since Saturday’s announcement that Kelly would be leaving.
“Nobody has talked to me about this. Nobody,” said Levine. “I respect the president, but I’m very happy being president of the Yankees.”
Amid the drumbeat of reports picturing potential candidates for the post as running as fast as they can to get away from it, Fox News said North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows is looking forward to a discussion about the job, if that’s what the president wants.
“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 said in a statement to Politico.
He expanded upon that in a conversation with Fox News.
“I’m looking forward to having conversations with the president, if he so chooses,” Meadows said. “I’ve had a lot of colleagues suggest I should do this. But I don’t know about private conversations.
“The president has a number of good candidates. … Any narrative that would suggest otherwise is not accurate.”
Meadows said Trump — not the media — will set the pace for picking Kelly’s replacement.
“The president is going to make that judgment call,” he said. “The bottom line is, the president is going to make the decision. He will make a good call.”
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