Trump says he's down to five candidates for chief of staff

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I will deliver State of the Union 'when the shutdown is over' Former NYPD commander claims Trump got special treatment for gun licenses Colbert starts petition for Cardi B to give State of the Union rebuttal MORE said Thursday he has narrowed down his list of candidates for White House chief of staff to five finalists.

The president made the revelation one day after Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsGOP lawmakers offer several locations for Trump address House passes bill expressing support for NATO Cohen will not answer questions about ongoing probes involving Trump, GOP lawmakers say MORE (R-N.C.), recently thought to be one of the top contenders, was taken out of the running.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We are interviewing people now for chief of staff,” Trump said during a meeting at the White House with governors-elect.

Trump said the remaining contenders are “mostly well known” and are “terrific people.” 

According to Trump’s account, the number of people under consideration for the job has fallen dramatically in the past 48 hours. Trump told Reuters on Tuesday he was deciding between 10 and 12 people.

White House officials say Trump is expected to choose a new top aide by year’s end, when John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE plans to leave his post.

The process was upended last weekend when Trump's top choice for the job, Vice President Pence's chief of staff Nick Ayers, turned it down.

People now believed to be under consideration include former Trump campaign adviser David Bossie, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryOvernight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans Pompeo in Iraq for unannounced visit GOP commissioner on federal energy panel dies MORE, according to multiple reports.

Bossie and former Trump campaign manager Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiThe Hill's Morning Report — Groundhog Day: Negotiations implode as shutdown reaches 20 days Chris Christie declines White House chief of staff role The Hill's Morning Report — Trump maintains his innocence amid mounting controversies MORE, who recently co-authored a book together, are expected to meet with the president on Friday at the White House.

In an interview earlier Thursday with Fox News, Trump said he wants a chief of staff who is “strong” and “thinks like I do."

The next chief of staff faces a tough task in navigating the White House through divided government starting next month and an intensifying Russia investigation, as well as the period leading up to Trump’s reelection campaign in 2020.

He or she will be Trump’s third chief of staff in roughly two years, a record level of turnover indicative of the high rate of departures that has plagued the West Wing.