Late Sunday Ayers announced that he would be departing the administration all together at the close of 2018. Ayers also earned the backing of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president's daughter and son-in-law and senior advisers, for taking on the new role, White House officials said. Ayers backing out will slightly delay Mr. Trump's decision, which will now be announced by the end of the year instead of this week.
The president is considering current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Republican Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, one source said.
Ayers, who is now Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, will instead leave the administration and take a job at a pro-Trump super PAC.
Ayers reportedly told the president he would only take the position on a temporary basis until spring, while the president pushed for a two-year commitment. With the Democrats prepared to take control of the House next month, Trump is pressed for time in selecting competent staff. His departure means the search for outgoing chief of staff John Kelly's successor continues.
Mr Kelly won credit for imposing some degree of order on the White House but he struggled with Mr Trump's habit of throwing the focus off-course with rogue tweets and personal attacks, including against members of his own administration and party.