Who actually wants to be Donald Trump's chief of staff?

In two weeks' time, President Donald Trump will be without a chief of staff following the departure of John ...

Posted: Dec 10, 2018 7:28 PM
Updated: Dec 10, 2018 7:28 PM

In two weeks' time, President Donald Trump will be without a chief of staff following the departure of John Kelly.

And with the surprise decision by Nick Ayers to turn the job down, Trump is left with, roughly, bupkis when it comes to obvious second choices.

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There is no denying that fact unless, of course, you are Donald Trump.

"I am in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff," he tweeted Sunday night. "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!"

If you believe that this is all going according to plan, then you may have missed the last two years of the Trump presidency. This is a President who freelances, disassembles and denies at every turn. He wanted Ayers. Ayers didn't want to commit for two years. That's the story.

But regardless of how we got here, here we are!

So who will Trump's next chief of staff be? The real truth is that no one knows because a) this a President who tends to wing it and b) everyone expected Ayers to take the job. There is a list of names kicking around, however.

I've taken the most oft-mentioned contenders and broken down each one's chances -- based on what we know of Trump, what message choosing that person would send, how much disruption it would cause etc. -- below. To be clear: Whether Trump settles on one of these names or not, that person will not likely survive terribly long in the job. Being chief of staff is a difficult gig -- President Barack Obama had five in his eight years as president -- that is made practically impossible when the President is Donald Trump.

1. Mick Mulvaney

Along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman, has been the biggest success story of the Trump administration. His star has risen quickly and he now holds two jobs: He is the head of the Office of Management and Budget and the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mulvaney is more press-friendly -- and skilled in communicating with the press -- than Kelly, and is a proven cable TV performer (also unlike Kelly). Both of those traits are major arguments for Mulvaney in the eyes of Trump.

The problem? Mulvaney doesn't appear to want the job. "He's not interested in chief of staff," a source close to Mulvaney told CNN's Rebecca Buck. "He has been saying for almost two months that he would be more interested in something like Commerce or Treasury, if that's where the President needed him."

2. Steve Mnuchin

Mnuchin is one of the few people in the administration that Trump regards if not as his equal than with a measure of respect and admiration. Why? Because Mnuchin made lots and lots of money and is viewed as very bright and successful in the world of finance.

The issue with Mnuchin is that he comes with some baggage and he -- and his wife, Louise Linton -- have shown something of a tin ear for appearances and politics since coming to Washington. Speaking of politics, Mnuchin is something of a neophyte to campaigns and elections, a trait that Trump had reportedly grown weary of in Kelly. Does the President really want a political n00b as his top adviser as he prepares to run for reelection in 2020?

3. Mark Meadows

Meadows, the North Carolina congressman and chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, is the most Trump-y of all the potential chief of staff candidates -- and would likely cause the most controversy if picked. (Like I said, the most Trump-y.) Meadows is not terribly well-liked by House members -- even (and maybe especially) Republicans. To the extent that the chief of staff's job is serve as a sort of liaison or bridge between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Meadows could struggle.

But if the job is primarily to provide an ear to listen to Trump -- and to agree with him and his approach -- then Meadows could be the right pick.

This debate could be immaterial because Meadows is reportedly telling associates "absolutely not" when it comes to the chief of staff job, according to CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

4. Robert Lighthizer

If you don't know the name, you can be forgiven: The US trade representative is not exactly a high-profile figure in political Washington. But Lighthizer is an old hand (he's 71) who has a pedigree of having worked with then-President Ronald Reagan -- and Trump likes that. He also likely maintains solid contact among Senate Republicans from his time as chief of staff at the Senate Finance Committee under Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kans.).

Lighthizer's tendency to avoid the limelight could be, weirdly, a strike against him in the world of Trump. Trump likes his top staffers out on TV making the case for him, selling the Trump brand at all times. Would an old Washington behind-the-scenes hand really fit the Trump model?

The bottom line

It is possible, of course, that Trump picks none of these people, none of these people want the job if picked and/or Trump can't convince any of them to take the job. Which, in and of itself, is remarkable. The job of White House chief of staff has long been one of the most prestigious and powerful gigs in Washington. Hell, Rahm Emanuel resigned as a member of Congress to take the job as Barack Obama's chief of staff!

Because Trump is Trump -- unpredictable, never satisfied and a big fan of scapegoating -- the job of being the man (or woman) next to the man has been considerably devalued. Yet another presidential norm that Donald Trump has broken.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112123

Reported Deaths: 3223
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
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