There are 18 days left until December 31, White House chief of staff John Kelly’s unofficial last day on the job. The search for his replacement is not going well.
After Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers, once seen as the top contender to replace Kelly, passed on the chance, Trump reportedly turned his attention to Mark Meadows, the North Carolina congressman who chairs the House Freedom Caucus. But on Wednesday, Meadows’s name was crossed off Trump’s list. Unlike Ayers, Meadows was taken out of contention by Trump. The president reportedly decided that Meadows is more valuable as an ally on Capitol Hill than in the West Wing. Trump also wanted to avoid a special election to replace Meadows, according to the Washington Post.
So, who’s next? Trump spent a good chunk of Wednesday trying to figure that out, the Post reports:
Trump spent much of Wednesday in his executive residence speaking privately with friends and senior aides about dozens of candidates, including Meadows, as he tries to narrow down a list that has expanded ever since Vice President Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, bowed out of consideration over the weekend.
Two names being floated late Wednesday by top Trump aides include acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, who was with the president at last weekend’s Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, and former Trump deputy campaign manager David N. Bossie, who is scheduled to have lunch with Trump on Friday, according to White House officials. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie continues to have boosters pushing for him inside the White House.
The longer the process drags on, the more names that get kicked around. Among the latest is Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker and eager Trump fanboy who was at the White House Wednesday. Gingrich said he was there to advise Trump on his chief of staff search, but his name has been kicked around in conservative media and according to one reporter, he’s currently “topping” the list of candidates:
When The Atlantic’s Elaina Plott asked Gingrich late Wednesday if he was interested in the gig though, he said, “No.” Also a “No” is Rick Santorum, whose name was one of the many on the long list of possibilities that have been floated this week.
There are, believe it or not, some people out there who would like the job. Piers Morgan, for one, has suggested that Trump hire him. The winner of The Celebrity Apprentice in 2008 and the only person more attention-hungry than Trump himself, Morgan made his case in a Daily Mail column this week. But it wasn’t as persuasive as the case made by Jose Canseco, also a former contestant on Trump’s reality show.