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

President TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race 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 MeadowsTrump to Pence on Jan. 6: 'You don't have the courage' Trump said whoever leaked information about stay in White House bunker should be 'executed,' author claims 'Just say we won,' Giuliani told Trump aides on election night: book MORE (R-N.C.), recently thought to be one of the top contenders, was taken out of the running.

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“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 PerryRick PerryFormer Texas Supreme Court justice jumps into state's AG Republican primary race Texas governor signs 'fetal heartbeat' abortion bill Tomorrow's special election in Texas is the Democrats' best House hope in 2021 MORE, according to multiple reports.

Bossie and former Trump campaign manager Corey LewandowskiCorey LewandowskiTrump super PAC promoting Susan Wright ahead of Texas House runoff Pentagon chief to restore advisory panels after purge of Trump loyalists Trump denies fighting with Pence for hiring Lewandowski 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.