White House Continues Search for New Chief of Staff

There’s a “now hiring” sign outside the White House—figuratively speaking. After Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Nick Ayers announced he would not be the replacement for outgoing White House Chief John Kelly, the hunt has moved on for President Trump’s top aide. Trump is considering a handful of choices—among them, Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Others being looked at are Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and financier Wayne Berman. No one candidate is currently leading the pack for the notoriously difficult job.

—QUOTABLE: “I am in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff. 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!” -Trump tweet

Trump Announces White House Shakeup; No New Chief of Staff Yet

President Trump announced an extreme makeover to his White House leadership team over the weekend. Mainly, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will be out by the end of the year, the president told reporters on Saturday. While the two have clashed—and Kelly has clashed with some of Trump’s influential family members—Trump called Kelly a “great guy” while announcing the end of Kelly’s 17 month tenure in the infamously difficult job. 

REPLACEMENT?—The word in D.C. circles had been that the president has already picked Vice President Mike Pence’s 36 year old chief of staff, Nick Ayers, as Kelly’s replacement, but on Sunday word got around that Ayers and Trump reached an impasse when it came to potential length of service—Trump wants his new chief to be around through the 2020 election. And Ayers himself then tweeted his thanks to Trump and Pence and that he’d be willing to help assist some other new chief of staff. No word on who Trump might have in mind besides him.

MEANWHILE—President Trump has announced his pick for the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. Trump made the announcement Saturday. Milley, who has served in the U.S. Army for 35 years, will replace outgoing Joint Chiefs chairman Joseph Dunford, who has served in the role since 2015.

GHWB, RIP

President George H. W. Bush’s remains arrived in Washington DC Monday evening, on board a military jet with the callsign Special Air Mission 41. Speaking at a ceremony upon the casket’s arrival, Vice President Mike Pence gave remarks, speaking to the 41st president’s life and character: “[he] never lost his love of adventure, and he never failed to answer the call to serve his country,” Pence said.

The casket will remain on display in the Capitol rotunda until early Wednesday morning, when the state funeral will begin. President Bush made clear he wanted President Trump at the funeral, though the current Commander in Chief will not speak. 

Pence Stares Down Putin at Summit

Vice President Mike Pence had something of a war of words with Chinese president Xi Jinping in dueling speeches over the weekend. At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea, President Xi said that tariffs were “short sighted” and “doomed to failure.” Moments later, Pence said the region’s countries should look to the Unites States as a “better option” compared with China’s heavy-handed approach to economic and diplomatic relations. The dueling speeches illustrate how far apart the U.S. and China remain on resolving an ongoing, but little discussed, trade war. Trump and Xi are set to meet a few weeks from now at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires.

MEANWHILE—Pence gave Russian dictator—president—Vladimir Putin a cold stare at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Pence had warned Putin not to continue interfering in U.S. elections amid discussions of arms control and the upcoming G-20 Summit.

—QUOTABLE: “Look, we’ve been very clear about this administration’s commitment to ensure, whether it be Russia or other countries, that there’s no tolerance for meddling in our elections.” -Pence

Procedural Vote Set for Friday

As the FBI supplemental report made its way through the Senate and the potential end of a drama that has gripped the nation approaches Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has set the initial vote for today with the final roll call vote likely to take place on Saturday.

The nomination teeters on a thin 51-49 Republican Majority in the Senate. Should the vote end in a 50-50 tie Vice President Mike Pence would cast the deciding vote.