WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Thursday met with former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and considered him a top contender for the job of White House chief of staff, a position some advisers urged him to give to senior aide Jared Kushner, sources said.
A source familiar with Trump’s thinking said the president had a positive meeting with Christie, confirming a report by Axios.com, and considered him a top-tier candidate for the position.
Christie, a brash, tough-talking politician, was a contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 but abandoned the attempt after a poor showing in the New Hampshire primary and subsequently endorsed Trump, becoming his adviser throughout the 2016 campaign.
Other sources said Trump was hearing appeals from some advisers to consider Kushner, a top White House aide who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, for the chief of staff job.
But one source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kushner was currently not inclined to pursue the position.
On Thursday, Trump said he was considering as many as five people to fill the vacancy that will be left when his current chief, retired General John Kelly, leaves the job early in the new year.
One source said that over the last few days “numerous people have reached out to the president to suggest” picking Kushner on the thinking that he is close to the president and has had a number of successes, such as helping negotiate a new trade pact with Mexico and Canada and advancing prison reform legislation.
“I’m not aware that he’s under consideration,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters. “But as I think all of us here would recognize, he will be great in any role that the president chooses to put him in.”
“He has done a tremendous job on a number of fronts, whether it was on trade or what we’ve seen play out over the last week on criminal justice reform. He’s done a great job on all those efforts,” Sanders said.
Those urging Kushner include some of the president’s outside advisers and some administration officials, the source said.
“It’s possible that this is why this is appearing at this moment in time, especially because what everyone knows you need is someone who has a good relationship with the president,” the source said.
But Kushner is happy with the work he is doing. “He’s not currently inclined to pursue it,” the source added.
Kushner and wife Ivanka had been advocating for Nick Ayers, the chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence. But Ayers turned down an offer for the position last weekend because he could not commit to the full two years Trump wanted.
One Trump confidant, who asked to remain unidentified, said Trump should just pick his son-in-law.
“You want consistency, knowing he’ll be here for two more years, just name Jared and let him do it the way he wants,” the confidant told Reuters.
Another potential pick as chief of staff, former campaign adviser David Bossie, was at the White House for meetings on Thursday, but was not believed to have met with the president