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Behind Mulvaney's Appointment as Trump's 'Acting' Chief of Staff

mick mulvaney holds a budget packet in his hands and speaks to the press corps from the podium
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney holds a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House May 23, 2017 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sunday, 16 December 2018 08:19 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Hours after President Trump tweeted late Friday that Mick Mulvaney would be his “acting” Chief of Staff, the questions began — from how the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director came to succeed General John Kelly in the White House staff’s top job to just what the President meant by “acting” chief of staff.

The “acting” adjective, according to several White House sources, means little except that Mulvaney will not have to give up his OMB portfolio for a while and thus create the need for a confirmation battle in the Senate.

While assuming Kelly’s duties in the West Wing, Mulvaney will relinquish his duties at OMB to its deputy director Russell T. Vought.

The conservative Vought, a former executive director of the Republican Study Committee and vice president of Heritage Action, will almost certainly become “acting” OMB director until the President is ready to name him as the permanent budget boss.

Mulvaney’s title of “acting Chief of Staff” is, as one Administration official told reporters, “his to lose” and he could swiftly become the permanent Chief of Staff “if things go well.”

Trump’s promotion of former South Carolina Rep. Mulvaney is the culmination of events that began last weekend with the long-awaited announcement that Kelly was leaving the chief of staff job and that Nick Ayers, Vice President Pence’s top aide, would not be taking the job.

Ayers reportedly wanted to leave the White House after several months and Trump was adamant about having no time limit on his next chief of staff. Moreover, several sources told Newsmax that many on the White House staff did not want to work for Ayers — a high-paid campaign consultant with no Washington experience beyond his stint with Pence.

In the days following Ayers’ exit and Mulvaney’s appointment, numerous names were floated to be Chief of Staff. Much of the press concluded there was a sense of near-desperation around Trump, that the suggestion of names ranging from former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to 2020 Trump campaign operative Dave Bossie meant that the President was having difficulty recruiting a successor to Kelly.

But just how seriously Christie, Bossie and others were considered and approached by Trump remains questionable. In contrast, Mulvaney and his supporters had long made it clear that the budget chief was always available to move up.

As far back as June, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Kelly was on the way out, a senior Administration official told Newsmax: “When he goes, if [Mulvaney] then gets the call from the President, he’ll sit down with him and they’ll talk.”

Another Administration source told us that working in Mulvaney’s favor to become chief of staff is “Ivanka and Jared [Kushner] think a lot of Mick and the chief of staff has to get along with the Trump Family.”

“Mr. Mulvaney may have an excellent resume for the job,” Chris Whipple, author of the much-praised book on White House chiefs of staff “The Gatekeepers,” told us, “But in the end, the question is whether he will be able to tell the President ‘you’re wrong.’”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Hours after President Trump tweeted late Friday that Mick Mulvaney would be his "acting" Chief of Staff, the questions began - from how the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director came to succeed General John Kelly ...
Sunday, 16 December 2018 08:19 AM
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