President Donald Trump has chosen Mick Mulvaney to become the acting White House chief of staff at the end of the year after John Kelly leaves the post.
Mulvaney already has a portfolio as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, a role he will still occupy in tandem with the acting chief of staff job. OMB Deputy Director Russ Vought will handle day-to-day operations for the office, Sanders said in a statement.
A senior administration official said there is ‘no time limit’ for Mulvaney to remain in the top White House post.
Mulvaney could lose the ‘acting’ part of his title if things go well, according to another senior administration official.
The chief of staff job is ‘his to lose,’ this administration official said.
Trump made the decision to choose Mulvaney on Friday to stop speculations and end once and for all the news cycle coming from potential candidates who had bowed out of consideration.
The decision, the official said, was driven by a desire inside the West Wing to put an end to the immense speculation of the last week and to give what had become a chaotic process ‘a certain degree of finality.’
Mulvaney, a conservative former South Carolina congressman, will be the third chief of staff in under two years to take on the task of running a White House besieged by a drumbeat of investigations and the expectation of more as Democrats take over the House of Representatives next month. Mulvaney’s elevation to the role of chief of staff comes a week after Trump announced that his current chief of staff, John Kelly, will leave his post at the end of the year.
‘I look forward to working with him in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Trump tweeted of Mulvaney. ‘John will be staying until the end of the year. He is a GREAT PATRIOT and I want to personally thank him for his service!’
Trump appointed Mulvaney to the position in an acting role about a week after Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers declined Trump’s offer to become chief of staff, refusing to agree to a two-year time commitment the President had requested. Their inability to come to terms sent Trump scrambling this week to reassess his list of contenders for chief of staff, leading to a search during which one candidate after the next withdrew from consideration or agreed with the President to take themselves out of the running.
While Mulvaney remained in the running this week, he had also indicated that he was not interested in the chief of staff role, with a source close to him instead indicating Mulvaney was interested in moving up to lead the Treasury or Commerce departments.
Mulvany will be tasked with managing the White House staff in the face of what looks like heightened pressure from the Mueller investigation that may become more noisome now that the Democrats have taken the house.
A senior officer credited the choice of Mulvaney as being due to the close relationship he has with the president.
‘He got picked because the President liked him, they get along,’ the senior administration official said. ‘He knows Congress. He knows Capitol Hill.’
Trump named Mulvaney in an acting capacity despite rejecting that very arrangement with Ayers a week ago. Ayers wanted to be named acting chief of staff and only take the job on a temporary basis, with a set departure date of this spring.
But, even after a statement was drawn up declaring Ayers as the next chief of staff, Trump changed his mind, deciding he wanted a permanent replacement for Kelly before unsuccessfully lobbying Ayers to take on the position for two years.
Right place, right time?
Many found the announcement fo Mulvaney as acting chief of staff quite sudden, but it may have all come down to timing.
With Ayers having declined the role and several Cabinet members doing the same including the Yankees president, time was running out.
Cue Mulvaney was in the West Wing on Friday to discuss the budget and a potential partial government shutdown next week. Kelly had chaired a senior staff meeting earlier in the morning that was primarily focused on the shutdown threat, one official noted, so a possible shutdown was a big topic of discussion in the West Wing.
Mulvaney then met with the President to discuss what to do about a shutdown and walked out with the acting chief of staff job.
A source familiar with the chief of staff decision has said Mulvaney is excited about the new job and can’t wait to begin working in that capacity.
Mulvaney, the source added, became interested in the chief job over the summer as news stories focused on Trump’s strained relations with Kelly.
He is not at all worried about dealing directly with Trump and all that comes with the job of chief, the source said, emphasizing he is ‘eager and happy to do it.’
Mulvaney, the source said, ‘is one of the adults in the room.’
Mulvaney took to Twitter to celebrate the news, calling it ‘a tremendous honor.’
He previously represented South Carolina’s 5th District in the House of Representatives, where he rose to prominence as a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, a group of hardline conservatives.
After joining the Trump administration as OMB director, he also soon took on the added job of acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in November 2017, a role he served in until just earlier this month.