A closer look inside President Donald Trump’s search for a new chief of staff reveals the chaos and dysfunction that ultimately drove John Kelly out of the White House.
Trump reportedly fired the retired U.S. Marine Corps general over the weekend after reportedly hearing gossip that Kelly was bad-mouthing him, but the president quickly ran into trouble finding a replacement who meets the approval of his daughter and son-in-law — both White House advisers, reported Politico.
“It’s Jared and Ivanka,” said a former White House official who also worked on the Trump campaign. “They have a big voice.”
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner had recommended Nick Ayers, the vice president’s chief of staff and an administration ally of theirs, to replace Kelly, but instead the 36-year-old Republican operative chose to leave the White House.
That left the president to fall back on his old habits as he searched for a new top aide, a GOP source close to the White House said: “He’s just calling around to friends.”
The couple reportedly objected to one Trump favorite, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who they don’t know well, and they also oppose former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“Bossie would have a pretty good chance of getting the job, if not for them,” a source close to the White House told Politico.
Kushner and Ivanka Trump would like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whom they view as loyal, to take over for Kelly, but the Cabinet official doesn’t seem to be interested.
“As corny as it sounds, the biggest thing the president needs right now is a friend — someone who gets along with him and his family and can be a comfort to them,” said one former senior White House official. “That’s the most important attribute a chief of staff can have, and that’s what [Trump] and his family are looking for.”
The couple hasn’t always made good choices in their recommendations for Trump staffers and advisers.
For example, they were instrumental in bring on Paul Manafort as campaign chairman and Mike Flynn as national security adviser — and both men later pleaded guilty to felony charges as part of the special counsel probe.
They also recommended Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director, a job he held for 10 days before publicly flaming out.