Pence to Replace His Chief of Staff
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff will depart the White House in the coming weeks and will be replaced by a long-serving aide, in the first major staff change of his office, officials said on Thursday.
Mr. Pence’s chief of staff, Josh Pitcock, will be replaced by Nick Ayers, a veteran political operative from Georgia who has been working with the vice president for three years. Mr. Ayers was the chief political strategist for Mr. Pence, then the governor of Indiana, when President Trump chose the governor as his running mate.
More recently, Mr. Ayers has been one of the leaders of an outside group supporting the White House, America First Policies, which had been preparing a series of ads criticizing Senator Dean Heller, Republican of Nevada, for his anticipated no vote on the Senate’s bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Mr. Pence, whose portfolio in the Trump White House is still developing, has told allies he would like to return to a system similar to what was in place during the campaign, when Mr. Ayers not only helped to keep Mr. Pence focused on bigger-picture themes as his strategist but also managed staff-related issues.
Mr. Pitcock’s departure, scheduled for August, is voluntary. He has worked for Mr. Pence for 12 years, including running the Indiana governor’s Washington office. Mr. Pence had asked Mr. Pitcock to stay on through the transition and then for the first months in the White House, but he had not planned on staying beyond the summer, people close to Mr. Pitcock said.
Mr. Ayers worked closely with Mr. Trump’s top aides during the presidential transition and has a good relationship with members of the president’s family and a number of senior presidential advisers. Mr. Ayers is also known as an aggressive fighter on behalf of his bosses, a quality that could serve the vice president well over coming months.
Since the inauguration, Mr. Pence has found himself mired in West Wing controversies, often of other people’s making. That included the dismissal of Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, who was fired for not being forthcoming with Mr. Pence about private discussions with the Russian ambassador to Washington.
Mr. Ayers also was the executive director of the Republican Governors Association for four years, including 2010, a year when the party picked up several statehouse seats. He has also worked on outside efforts supporting Republican conservatives such as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas.