Chief of staff favorite says no

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But Trump wants a permanent chief of staff as he heads into the fight of his political life.

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.

A beleaguered President Donald Trump insisted on Monday (Dec 10) that hush payments made to women before the 2016 election were legal, as he struggled to fill the key position of chief of staff - made toxic by two years of White House turmoil.

Trump's chief of staff: Nick Ayers not taking role, to leave White House at year's end
Nick Ayers, Trump's likely pick for chief of staff, won't take the job

The man expected to be Donald Trump's next chief of staff has turned down the job, according to U.S. media reports.

Before Mr Ayers's announcement he was out of the running for the job, Chris Whipple, who wrote a book on White House chiefs of staff called The Gatekeepers, said he was sceptical Mr Ayers had enough clout to be effective as Mr Trump's chief of staff. "The President has a long list of qualified candidates and I know he'll make the best selection for his administration and for the country".

"Trump delivered the news to John Kelly on Friday prior to senior staff dinner".

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The President is now considering current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Republican Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, one source said.

And a person familiar with Mnuchin's thinking said he, too, was happy with his work at Treasury and had not sought the job of chief of staff.

The chief of staff is the highest-ranking White House official that is appointed by the president.

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Reif will use the report to guide his decisions about the relationship between MIT and Saudi Arabia going forward. So far, President Trump has given the Saudi crown prince the benefit of the doubt about his role in the incident.

Lighthizer, meanwhile, has gained prominence in the administration for his handling of trade negotiations; he is the point person for talks between the administration and China over trade, an issue that is likely to dominate the first part of 2019 and beyond. Trump said Saturday that he expected to announce a replacement for Kelly in a day or two.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Trump's former deputy campaign manager, David Bossie, were also among the names being floated by those close to the White House.

Lighthizer hinted he wasn't interested in the job when appearing on "Face the Nation" Sunday.

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But Trump and Ayers could not come to an agreement on the conditions of Ayers appointment, according to the Times. Ayers, the father of young triplets, was willing to serve only until the spring of 2019 for family reasons, an administration official said earlier. But his iron fist also alienated some longtime Trump allies, and over time he grew increasingly isolated, with an increasingly diminished role.