Pence aide out of running to be Trump's next chief of staff

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's top pick to replace chief of staff John Kelly, Nick Ayers, is no longer expected to fill the role.

Ayers, who is chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, was seen as the favorite for the job when Trump announced Saturday that Kelly would leave around year's end. But a White House official said Sunday that Trump and Ayers could not reach agreement on Ayers' length of service and that he would instead assist the president from outside the administration.

Ayers confirmed the decision in a tweet Sunday, thanking Trump and Pence for giving him the opportunity to work in the White House. "I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause," he said.

15 PHOTOS
Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff Nick Ayers
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Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff Nick Ayers
Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff Nick Ayers, center, arrives for an event to salute U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff Nick Ayers, center, arrives for a news conference with President Donald Trump and Republican congressmen after participating in a Congressional Republican Leadership Retreat at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. A seasoned campaign veteran at age 36, Ayers is emerging as a leading contender to replace White House chief of staff John Kelly, whose departure has long been the subject of speculation.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Ivanka Trump, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Nick Ayers, listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Thursday, March 8, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short, left, Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff Nick Ayers, second from right, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, third from right, and National Economic Council chairman Gary Cohn, second from right, listen and President Donald Trump and Republican congressmen speak at a news conference after participating in a Congressional Republican Leadership Retreat at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2017 file photo, Vice President Mike Pence, left, attends a meeting with Georgia opposition leaders in Tbilisi, Georgia. Chief of Staff to the Vice President, Nick Ayers, is right. A seasoned campaign veteran at age 36, Ayers is emerging as a leading contender to replace White House chief of staff John Kelly, whose departure has long been the subject of speculation.(Zurab Kurtsikidze/Pool Photo via AP)
Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff Nick Ayers, center, arrives for a news conference with President Donald Trump and Republican congressmen after participating in a Congressional Republican Leadership Retreat at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. A seasoned campaign veteran at age 36, Ayers is emerging as a leading contender to replace White House chief of staff John Kelly, whose departure has long been the subject of speculation. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, center, attends a meeting with Georgia opposition leaders in Tbilisi, Georgia, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017. Chief of Staff to the Vice President Nick Ayers is in the center right, and United States Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly, center left. (Zurab Kurtsikidze/Pool Photo via AP)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 26: Chief of Staff to Vice President Pence Nick Ayers, left, and White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, listen as President Donald Trump speaks at a meeting with the members of the National Governors Association in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23: Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff Nick Ayers (L) and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster arrive in the Rose Garden before President Donald Trump and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong deliver joint statements at the White House October 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and Lee are meeting ahead of Trump's first official visit to Asia to attend the APEC and ASEAN meetings during the first two weeks of November. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 5: Chief of Staff to the Vice President Nick Ayers stands outside a meeting with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. After the Senate passed their tax reform legislation last week, the next step will be a conference committee with members of the House to iron out the differences between the two bills. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 07: Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Nick Ayers (L) talks with White House Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway before a joint news conference with Amir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait and U.S. President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House September 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. Following meetings and a working luncheon, the two leaders talked about their ongoing military cooperation and ongoing tensions in the Middle East. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Nick Ayers (L), chief of staff to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly look on as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 9, 2018. Picture taken May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Nick Ayers (L), chief of staff to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly look on as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S. May 9, 2018. Picture taken May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Nick Ayers (C), Chief of Staff to ?U.S. Vice President Mike Pence?, attends as U.S. President Donald Trump presents the Medal of Honor to retired U.S. Army special forces medic Gary Michael Rose, for actions on a four-day secret mission to Laos in 1970 during the Vietnam War, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Nick Ayers (C), Chief of Staff to ?U.S. Vice President Mike Pence?, attends as U.S. President Donald Trump presents the Medal of Honor to retired U.S. Army special forces medic Gary Michael Rose, for actions on a four-day secret mission to Laos in 1970 during the Vietnam War, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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It was not immediately clear whether Trump had a new favorite for the post. The official was not authorized to discuss the personnel issue by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ayers and Trump had discussed the job for months. The new hire was to be key to a West Wing reshuffling to shift focus toward the 2020 re-election campaign and the challenge of governing with Democrats in control of the House.

Trump wants his next chief of staff to hold the job through the 2020 election, the official said. Ayers, who has young triplets, had long planned to leave the administration at the end of the year, and had only agreed to serve in an interim basis through next spring.

Ayers will run a pro-Trump super PAC, according to a person familiar with his plans who was not authorized to discuss them by name.

Trump said Saturday that he expected to announce a replacement for Kelly in a day or two.

26 PHOTOS
Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration
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Notable people who have been fired or resigned from Trump's administration

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis

(REUTERS/Leah Millis)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks reportedly announced her resignation after testifying about her job and being required to tell "white lies."

(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired by President Trump in March 2018.

(Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

White House aide Omarosa Manigault insists she resigned and was not fired from her role in December 2017.

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned from his position on July 5, 2018 after a number of ethics scandals.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Sally Yates was fired from her post as acting attorney general when she refused to enforce President Trump's travel ban. 

(Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Rob Porter resigned as White House staff secretary in February 2018 amid abuse allegations made by his ex-wives.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

White House Counsel Don McGahn

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

H.R. McMaster was replaced by John Bolton as national security advisor in March 2018.

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

White House aide Kelly Sadler left her position in June 2018 after reportedly mocking Sen. John McCain.

(REUTERS/Leah Millis)

Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn announced his resignation in March 2018 after becoming a key architect of the 2017 tax overhaul 

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his interactions with Russian officials. 

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

President Trump announced David Shulkin was out as secretary of veterans affairs by sending a tweet announcing he had nominated his personal physican, Ronny Jackson, to replace him on March 28, 2018.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in early May.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer resigned in July.

(June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus resigned in July.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Former advisor to President Donald Trump Steve Bannon resigned in August.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Anthony Scaramucci, former White House communications director was fired in July after just 10 days on the job. 

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Trump fired Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh amid White House leaks in April.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria/Files)

Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned in late September. 

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President Trump fired U.S. Attorney in Manhattan Preet Bharara in March.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Mike Dubke resigned as White House communications director in late May.

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Walter Shaub, former Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics in Washington, DC resigned in July.

(Photo Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

White House deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka resigned in August 2017. 

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Rick Dearborn, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs, left the White House in December 2017.

(REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

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With Ayers out of the running, Trump is considering four candidates for the post, including Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, according to a person familiar with the president's thinking. He is to make a decision by the end of the year, said the person, was not authorized to discuss the personnel issue by name.

Kelly, whose last day on the job is set to be Jan. 2, had been credited with imposing order on a chaotic West Wing after his arrival in June 2017 from his post as homeland security secretary. But his iron first also alienated some longtime Trump allies, and over time he grew increasingly isolated, with an increasingly diminished role.

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Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

Follow Miller on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ZekeJMiller

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