President Donald Trump’s shortlist of replacements for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly keeps getting shorter.
Kelly announced that he would be out of the White House by the end of the year, leaving many speculating as to who would be replacing the chief of staff.
With “front-runners” backing out of the race and rumors of chaos ahead, it isn’t clear who will take the job.
Here’s a list of where several of the candidates stand right now.
Definitely not taking the job
Although he was the front-runner less than 24 hours ago, Nick Ayers announced that he would be leaving the White House, not taking a promotion to chief of staff.
Ayers is the current chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence. The 36-year-old caught the eye of many pundits who believed he would be the president’s pick, however, the president called the rumors “fake news.”
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
.@nick_ayers has done an outstanding job as my Chief of Staff and I will always be grateful for his friendship, dedication to the @VP team and his efforts to advance the @POTUS agenda. Thank you Nick! Karen and I wish you, Jamie and the kids every blessing in the years ahead.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) December 9, 2018
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2018
Although Ayers is leaving the White House, he definitely isn’t leaving Team Trump. He will be working on the fundraising efforts for Trump’s reelection.
Probably not taking the job
There were several people who were reported to be on the president’s short list who seem to have taken their names out of the running.
There is no doubt that managing the White House under Trump would be a chaotic job. With high staff turnover, assaults from the media, and the likely legal troubles ahead for the president now that Democrats run the House, new reports show these candidates have declined the job before even being officially offered.
Mick Mulvaney and Steve Mnuchin
Office of Management and Budget Director and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney, was rumored to be on a shortlist to be the next chief of staff along with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. However, according to a report from the Washington Post, the two don’t want the job.
The Post wrote that although the two do not want the job, they could be convinced to take it if Trump has no other alternatives, writing:
“Another senior administration official said that Mulvaney and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have both expressed internally that they aren’t seeking the job but could change their minds if Trump pleads with them.”
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been working on negotiations between the United States and China as the two nations strive toward new trade agreements. Although Lighthizer was in consideration for chief of staff, reports from Politico claim he is out of the running so that he can continue working with the Chinese delegation.
NEW: A source close to Mulvaney tells me he is no longer interested in COS job, Mnuchin and Lighthizer sending out same signals…. list of potential replacements for Kelly shrinking by the hour.
— Nancy Cook (@nancook) December 10, 2018
In the running
With four likely front-runners out of the race, the field has opened up to several candidates outside of the White House.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been said to be in the running. Christie ran against President Trump in 2016 but he put his support behind the president as soon as he exited the race.
David Bossie served on the Trump campaign in 2016 as deputy campaign manager. Bossie has also served in leadership for the conservative activist group Citizens United. Although he worked with the president’s campaign, he hasn’t had a formal role in the White House.
Matthew Whitaker’s current roles as acting attorney general will wrap up as soon as the Republican-controlled Senate approves General William Barr, President Trump’s nominee for attorney general, leaving Whitaker available to take the job in the White House. Whitaker previously served as chief of staff for the Department of Justice.
Congressman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) is currently representing the people of North Carolina’s 11th district, but his name has jumped toward the top of Trump’s likely choices. Meadows currently chairs the House Freedom Caucus, making him the most conservative choice of those likely to run.
Who wants the job?
Because of the apparent turbulence in the line-up of chief of staff picks, many have joked that Trump wants to be his own chief of staff.
Several took to Twitter to poke fun at the chaotic reports of who is in and who is out at the White House.
The next White House Chief of Staff will be the first person who says yes
— andy lassner (@andylassner) December 9, 2018
The White House is putting the Chief Of Staff job on Craigslist.
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) December 9, 2018
WILL YOU BE MY CHIEF OF STAFF? pic.twitter.com/QQpZtiqmSo
— Jesse Ferguson (@JesseFFerguson) December 10, 2018
Kelly will remain in the position until the new year. The position of chief of staff doesn’t require Senate approval, so the decision is fully up to the president.