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Speculation soars over US chief of staff replacement

Washington, Monday

Speculation is mounting over who will be US President Donald Trump’s new chief of staff after the man believed to be the top candidate said he too was leaving the government.

Nick Ayers, chief of staff to the vice-president, will reportedly return to his home state of Georgia. The 36-year-old was seen as Trump’s main choice to replace Gen John Kelly, who will depart by the year’s end. But the president appeared to dismiss the idea he had wanted Ayers.

Interviews ongoing

“I am in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff,” he said in a tweet. “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!”

Exactly who is on the list of interviewees is a source of debate among US media outlets.

According to the Washington Post, Republican congressman Mark Meadows, a leader of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, and Mick Mulvaney, the White House’s budget director, are in contention.

CNN added Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to the list of possibilities, although this was played down by a source close to the former investment banker.

But exactly who will be brave enough to take on the role remains to be seen.

Earlier this year, Gen Kelly, who took over from Reince Priebus in July 2017, was forced to deny he had called Trump an “idiot” after the quote was included in a book about Trump by the veteran investigative journalist Bob Woodward.

Kelly’s exit

Gen Kelly is said to have used the description repeatedly and also allegedly said that “it’s pointless to try to convince him of anything”.

Kelly’s exit brings the Trump administration to an uncertain place. Back in July 2017, he was brought in an attempt to bring stability to a chaotic and disorganised White House. And by most accounts, he succeeded at doing so on internal process matters.   – AFP

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