It was already a strange scenario. For weeks, we’ve all heard that Donald Trump was planning to oust John Kelly as his White House Chief of Staff, and replace him with Mike Pence’s current Chief of Staff, Nick Ayers. Sure enough, yesterday, Trump confirmed that Kelly is resigning. Then today, out of nowhere, Ayers turned down the Trump job, and announced he was also resigning from his current Pence job. So what’s going on here?
There is going to be a lot of focus on Nick Ayers, but we don’t think he’s the story here. He’s saying he wants to spend more time with his family, but political figures always say that when they resign. The thing is, it doesn’t add up logically. By all accounts, Donald Trump has been increasingly relying on Ayers for advice for weeks. Ayers must have clearly signaled to Trump that he was definitely taking the job, or Trump wouldn’t have announced yesterday that Kelly was out.
Now suddenly, forty-eight hours after Trump was formally hit with two felony accusations, Nick Ayers has suddenly changed his mind and is bailing on a job that he had just 100% committed to. It’s not difficult to parse that Ayers now thinks Trump is going down, and doesn’t want to join the sinking ship.
Here’s the twist: if Nick Ayers merely thought Trump was toast, all he’d have to do is stick with his existing job as Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff, and he could ride Pence into the Oval Office. Instead, Ayers’ decision to resign from the administration entirely is a sign that he thinks Trump and Pence are toast. Perhaps he looked at the mention of the Trump transition team in the Michael Flynn sentencing memo, and concluded that Pence – who ran the transition team – is also going down.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report