Embattled Trump struggles to fill key White House post

The Latest More candidates emerge for Trump chief of staff

A bad week for Donald Trump ended with the news that his first choice to replace John Kelly as White House chief of staff will not take the role.

Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Nick Ayers is considered to be a strong candidate for the role. Sources said he would be joining a political action committee. Trump said Saturday that he expected to announce a replacement for Kelly in a day or two.

Chief of staff to the vice-president Nick Ayers stands outside a meeting with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The New York Times reported on Ayers' trepidation Saturday, while also naming Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, budget director Mick Mulvaney and USA trade rep Robert Lighthizer as possible candidates.

Trump wants his next chief of staff to hold the job through the 2020 election, said the White House official, who was not authorized to discuss the personnel issue by name and, as did others, spoke on condition of anonymity. Ayers claimed, however, that he would also be leaving the White House soon.

Now leading Trump's ongoing negotiations with China, Lighthizer is already familiar with how the president operates and has a good rapport with the commander in chief.

As Democrats search for a candidate to run in the next elections in late 2020, James Comey - the former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief abruptly fired by Trump after he came to power - said voters must "use every breath we have to make sure the lies stop on January 20, 2021".

The Twitterati seized the opportunity to jeer at the president's apparent troubles with picking Kelly's successor, proposing their own - sometimes really weird - candidates for the job. It was Saturday afternoon that Trump confirmed the news before making his way to the Army-Navy game.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), one of the Trump's most enthusiastic defenders in Congress, has also been mentioned.

Trump announced Saturday that Kelly, 68, would leave the administration - the latest key personnel move at a time of mounting pressure from the Russian Federation election-meddling probe that comes amid increased focus on preparing for the 2020 elections.

The White House official said that, while the president likes Lighthizer, he is reluctant to move him from his current post because of the ongoing high-stakes trade negotiations with China and others.

-David Bossie, Trump's former deputy campaign manager. "This is a hot White House", the president contended.

Another person close to several administration officials who is keeping close tabs on the process from outside the White House described the ongoing search as "chaos".

Trump saying Kelly will step down at the end of the year.

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