With John Kelly’s tenure as White House chief of staff possibly winding down, President Donald Trump has been consulting with some of his advisers on who should succeed Kelly in that post, a source familiar with the situation said on Thursday.
Kelly, a retired general, is nearing a year in the job and could be leaving soon, the source said.
Among possible choices for Trump are Mick Mulvaney, who is the White House budget director and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Nick Ayers, who is Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, the source said.
White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told reporters aboard Air Force One on the president’s flight to Washington from Milwaukee that both Trump and Kelly had denied that Kelly was on his way out.
Trump called the report “fake news” and Kelly said that “this was news to him,” she said.
Trump has occasionally chafed at the restrictions Kelly has placed on who gets access to see him and has wondered aloud whether he needs someone with more political experience for the job as congressional elections approach, two sources said.
But he frequently praises Kelly publicly and has expressed admiration of him.
Kelly was picked as chief of staff last summer to bring order to the West Wing in place of Reince Priebus, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee who presided over the chaotic early months of the Trump presidency.
The Trump White House has generated major turnover since he took office in January 2017.
Figures compiled by Martha Joynt Kumar, a Towson University scholar who researches White House transitions and staffing, said Trump had the highest turnover of top-tier staff of any recent president at the 17-month mark.
The figures for losses among designated high-level staff were 61 percent for Trump, compared with 14 percent for President Barack Obama and 5 percent for George W. Bush, her studies found.
Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney and Tom Brown