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Thanks but no thanks
February 17, 2019

Heather Nauert, Trump's pick to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, withdrew her name from consideration Saturday.

The State Department spokeswoman and former Fox News anchor said that it was in the best interest of her family that she remove her name from the process. "I am grateful to to President Trump and Secretary [Mike] Pompeo for the trust they placed in me," Nauert said in a statement. "However, the past two months have been grueling for my family and therefore it is in the best interest of my family that I withdraw my name from consideration."

Pompeo addressed Nauert's decision, praising her job performance at the State Department and wishing her "nothing but the best."

The Washington Post reported Nauert's nomination faced complications and that her security investigation was delayed because 10 years ago she hired a foreign-born nanny who did not have a proper work visa. Additionally, the report says Nauert did not pay her taxes on the hire at the proper time.

The State Department said Trump will select a new nominee soon. Tim O'Donnell

December 10, 2018

In an embarrassing public rejection, President Trump's reported pick to replace White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has turned him down.

Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, was reportedly Trump's only choice to replace Kelly to the point that an announcement of his selection had been drafted, The New York Times reports. But on Sunday, Ayers said he would not take the job and would instead return home to Georgia.

So why did Ayers turn down what should be a highly-desired job? Here are some possible explanations.

1. The Times and CNN report that Trump asked Ayers to commit for two years, but he was only willing to take the job on an interim basis. When they couldn't agree on a timeline, Ayers decided to decline. CNN notes that Ayers has young kids, and thus didn't want to stay in the White House until 2020.

2. Conservative columnist John Podhoretz speculates that Ayers wanted to avoid being in the White House during the impending wave of Democratic investigations and possible indictments, per Talking Points Memo. Politico reports that Ayers plans to run for office in Georgia, and perhaps he sensed that staying on staff amid such chaos could only hurt those chances.

3. Similarly, The Washington Post reports that Ayers was "skeptical of taking the job based on the challenges" his predecessors, Reince Priebus and Kelly, faced. Kelly and Trump reportedly stopped speaking in recent days.

4. The Times reports that Ayers, whose net worth is more than $12 million, may have wanted to avoid "scrutiny of his personal finances." Ayers is now reportedly going to make a whole lot of money running a pro-Trump Super PAC.

5. Finally, The Times' Maggie Haberman writes that Ayers was essentially being used by those opposed to Kelly to push him out of the job, and "toward the end, he may have realized that." Brendan Morrow

December 10, 2018

President Trump was so confident that Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, would be his next chief of staff that the White House has already drafted the announcement, The New York Times reports. Instead, on Sunday evening, Ayers confirmed that he is leaving the White House at the end of the year, around the same time as outgoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Ayers, 36 and the father of young triplets, reportedly agreed to be Trump's chief of staff on a short-term basis, but Trump wanted a chief of staff that would stay through the rest of his first term. Ayers will apparently head a pro-Trump super PAC from Georgia.

"For decades, the job of White House chief of staff was once among Washington's most desirable jobs — a pinnacle of access and power," Politico notes. "It's a different story under Trump. A job that was once a ticket to Washington royalty has recently become a laughing stock."

Still, advisers to Trump were "stunned by the turn of events," and "one former senior administration official called it a humiliation for Mr. Trump and his adult children, an emotion that the president tries to avoid at all costs," reports Maggie Haberman at Times. "With a head of blond hair, Mr. Ayers somewhat resembles Mr. Trump in his younger days, a fact that the president often looks for as a positive signal. The president had an unusual affinity for Mr. Ayers, telling aides who expressed concern about Mr. Ayers that he liked him."

Trump downplayed the news, tweeting Sunday night: "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!" Peter Weber

December 3, 2018

President Trump will be attending the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush, but don't expect to hear from him.

Although Trump was invited to the memorial service on Wednesday, he won't be delivering a eulogy, The New York Times and CNN report. Typically, the sitting president would speak at the funeral of his predecessor, but the Times writes that this is "seemingly a compromise intended to respect tradition while avoiding an awkward moment given the animosity between the current president and the Bush family."

During his campaign, Trump mocked the 41st president's phrase "a thousands points of light," asking, "What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out?" Bush in a 2017 book called Trump a "blowhard" and said he voted for Hillary Clinton, per BBC News.

Former President George W. Bush will speak at the funeral service, which is set to include several other speakers like historian Jon Meacham. But CNN reports that Trump not speaking may have less to do with the family's rocky history with him and more to do with the fact that they're in the unique position of having Bush's son be a former president himself, so he's filling the presidential eulogizer role that would normally go to Trump. Sources also told CNN that plans for the funeral were put in place before Trump was elected.

The Los Angeles Times' Noah Bierman points out that this will be the first time since 1973 that a sitting president hasn't eulogized his predecessor. George W. Bush spoke at Gerald Ford's funeral in 2007, and before that, he spoke at Ronald Reagan's funeral in 2004, and Bill Clinton spoke at Richard Nixon's funeral in 1994. Brendan Morrow

November 16, 2018

It looks like Mira Ricardel, the former deputy national security adviser whose firing first lady Melania Trump publicly requested, was not interested in the other job the White House had lined up for her.

After Ricardel was forced out of her White House job, the Trump administration offered Ricardel the position of ambassador to Estonia, Bloomberg reported Friday. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had previously said that Ricardel would have a "new role in the administration, per The New York Times. Bloomberg reports that Ricardel turned down that ambassador job but that President Trump is interested in keeping her to the point that she has been "presented nearly a dozen jobs from which to choose."

The first lady had taken the extraordinary step of calling for Ricardel's firing on Tuesday right after Ricardel appeared at a White House event. This was reportedly after a series of run-ins between Ricardel and the office of the first lady, including one fight over plane seating on Melania Trump's recent trip to Africa. Ricardel said in a statement Friday that "it's been an honor to serve the president as deputy national security adviser," suggesting she hopes to stay on in some capacity by adding, "I look forward to working with them in the months ahead." Read more at Bloomberg. Brendan Morrow

November 12, 2018

The United States, Russia, and China are not taking part in a new French-led push to crack down on cybercrime with new regulations.

On Monday, 50 governments and 150 tech companies pledged to do more to fight criminal activity on the internet, including election interference, hate speech, censorship, and the theft of trade secrets, The Associated Press reports. The countries taking part include many European nations, as well as Japan and Canada. Even though the U.S. is sitting out for now, U.S. tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have signed on.

CNBC reports that "talks are continuing" with France to determine whether the U.S. will become a signatory, but either way, a French official says that "the U.S. will be involved under other forms."

The effort, spearheaded by France, is referred to as the "Paris call for trust and security in cyberspace." It calls for action to "improve trust, security and stability in cyberspace," but the Trump administration has generally steered clear of such international regulatory efforts, writes CNBC. The office of French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that "now that that half of humanity is online, we need to find new ways to organize the internet" to keep it "free, open, and secure." A similar effort advocating for internet regulations during U.N. negotiations failed in 2017, Reuters notes. Brendan Morrow

October 26, 2018

President Trump's criticism of CNN might seem a little harsh considering the network was sent two explosive devices in the past week. But Trump doesn't think he's gone far enough.

In comments to reporters after the arrest of a man suspected of sending bombs to presidential critics, Trump asserted that he's "been toned down" when it comes to taking on the media lately. In fact, considering "the media's been extremely unfair to me and to the Republican Party," he said he "could really tone it up."

Trump also discussed the arrest of Cesar Sayoc, who drove a van covered in pro-Trump stickers. Trump acknowledged that Sayoc appears to be "a person who preferred me," but said he "did not see my face on the van." And as for those targeted by Sayoc, such as former President Barack Obama? Trump said he would call them "if they wanted me to, but I think we'll probably pass." Watch that moment below. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 18, 2018

Rihanna was asked to headline Super Bowl LII's halftime show, but said no in support of Colin Kaepernick, a person with knowledge of the offer told Us Weekly on Thursday.

"The NFL and CBS really wanted Rihanna to be next year's performer in Atlanta," the person said. "They offered it to her, but she said no because of the kneeling controversy. She doesn't agree with the NFL's stance." Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, started a national conversation when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest against police brutality. He has not played since the 2016 season, and has filed a grievance, accusing the NFL and owners of colluding to keep him from playing.

Once Rihanna turned down the NFL's offer, Maroon 5 was asked to perform, an invitation the band accepted. Catherine Garcia

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