Trump still searching for chief of staff

Days after his ...

Posted: Dec. 12, 2018 12:07 AM
Updated: Dec. 12, 2018 12:07 AM

Days after his White House chief of staff succession plans crumbled, President Donald Trump is still working to come up with a Plan B.

"We have a lot of people who want the job of chief of staff and we'll be seeing what happens very soon. We're in no rush," Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with Democratic congressional leaders, adding he plans to announce his pick "over a period of a week or two, or maybe less."

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Earlier Tuesday morning, the President sought to dispel reports of the headwinds he faces in tapping a new chief of staff, saying "the Fake News has it purposely wrong."

"Many, over ten, are vying for and wanting the White House Chief of Staff position. Why wouldn't someone want one of the truly great and meaningful jobs in Washington," Trump tweeted.

Trump was left hanging when Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Nick Ayers, who was expected to succeed White House chief of staff John Kelly, refused the President's request that he commit to a two-year tenure on the job. While Trump had long considered others for the chief of staff post, he had settled on Ayers and did not have a clear runner-up.

The President is now returning to the selection process anew, this time with fresh developments in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation that leave little doubt about the rocky road that lies ahead for Trump and whoever accepts to steer an already chaotic West Wing through the tumult.

CNN has reported on several potential contenders for the position, including Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina; acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney; and former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie.

The President is polling a slew of friends and advisers -- inside and outside the White House -- about various candidates and drawing inspiration from his TV screen, where those vying for the post are not-so-subtly making their case to their audience of one.

Trump is scheduled to meet for lunch later this week with Bossie and another close outside ally, his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. But a source said the meeting was scheduled before Trump renewed his search for a chief of staff.

Still, Bossie took to Fox News on Tuesday morning to address his position on the list of contenders, calling it "humbling" as he coyly touted his qualifications for the post.

Noting that he has "known the President a long, long time," Bossie said that he understands the political movement that elected Trump and stressed the importance of Trump picking someone who understands the House investigatory process -- of which he was a key part during Republicans' impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

As Trump has grown more concerned about the prospect of impeachment, a source familiar with the discussions said Trump has questioned Bossie about the process and what lessons he learned from the Clinton impeachment.

Still, a source familiar with the chief of staff selection process confidently poured cold water on the prospect of Bossie getting tapped for the post, saying he has a "0.0% chance" of succeeding Kelly.

Meadows said it was "flattering" to be considered for the position and also touted some of his credentials for the chief of staff job, calling himself "a strategy guy."

"Being able to work strategically, whether it's here or whether it's someplace else, is something that I would enjoy doing," Meadows told reporters on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, he said he had not spoken to Trump in the last 48 hours and said he had "no update" on his status.

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