The moment President Trump announced that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would be leaving the administration at the end of the year, the speculation about his replacement largely centered on one man: Nick Ayers, the young conservative wunderkind who has been serving in that position for Vice President Mike Pence for the last year and a half.
Alas, Ayers threw a monkey wrench into those plans when he reportedly told the president that he was only willing to serve for a few months and that he would only start with an announced end-date in mind. Trump is looking for someone who will be in the trenches with him for the next two years, so now it’s an open guessing game as to who he’ll pick for the spot.
Our favorite guess thus far comes via a report from Axios, where their reporters are saying that Rep. Mark Meadows, the North Carolina Republican who heads up the Freedom Caucus, is in line for the position.
“Trump has asked confidants what they think about the idea of installing Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus, as John Kelly’s permanent replacement, according to these three sources,” Axios published on Monday. “Trump has also mentioned three other candidates besides Meadows, according to a source with direct knowledge. I don’t yet have their names.”
We would be sad to see Meadows leave Capitol Hill, but there are few people we would rather have on the president’s side in the White House. Meadows would be a remarkable pick, but he’s just one of many names being thrown around.
In an interview with Fox News, former White House Communications Director Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci said that the pick might be someone you don’t expect.
“I think the president needs somebody that really likes him, likes his agenda, wants to work with him on his agenda and he also needs somebody that can push back on the president the way the president likes to be pushed back on,” Scaramucci said. “The big misnomer is that the president likes sycophants. I think the real people that are closest to the president are realizing he doesn’t like that at all. If anything, he likes an honest, rigorous debate, but he wants everybody to know that he’s the boss. He’s the one in charge.”
It’s worth wondering if Scaramucci, who lasted only one week in the White House, is the best guy to ask about what Trump likes and doesn’t like, but that analysis sounds right, judging by the people Trump has surrounded himself with. Hell, he kept Gary Cohn on for a year-and-a-half, so clearly he doesn’t mind conflicting opinions.
Besides Meadows and Ayers, some of the other candidates said to be up for the job include Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, and perennial Trump frenemy Chris Christie.
Of those choices, we still love the idea of Meadows, but we’ll just have to wait and see.