Trump names Mulvaney 'acting' chief of staff

Mick Mulvaney will become the acting White House chief of staff at the end of the year, President Donald Tru...

Posted: Dec 16, 2018 2:19 AM
Updated: Dec 16, 2018 2:19 AM

Mick Mulvaney will become the acting White House chief of staff at the end of the year, President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Friday.

Mulvaney will not resign as director of the Office of Management and Budget while he is acting White House chief of staff, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday evening. OMB Deputy Director Russ Vought will handle day-to-day operations for the office, Sanders said in a statement.

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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 told CNN.

The President's decision to appoint Mulvaney as his chief of staff began to materialize around 4 p.m. Friday afternoon, this official said.

Trump had been marinating on this idea throughout the day and ultimately decided to pull the trigger because the speculation and bowing out of candidates had begun to get out of hand.

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."

A source familiar with the situation told CNN's Jim Acosta that the President wants Mulvaney to remain OMB director while serving as acting chief of staff. A White House official had earlier told CNN that Mulvaney was going step down from his OMB role and Vought would take over in an acting capacity.

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.

Full plate

Mulvaney will take over the job as special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is once again taking center stage, with developments in recent days ratcheting up the legal jeopardy Trump could face. On Thursday, Trump's former longtime personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, in part over a felony campaign finance violation he said he committed at Trump's direction.

A senior administration official said Mulvaney and Trump met earlier Friday afternoon and credited the close relationship Mulvaney has built with the President as a reason for his selection, as well as his experience in Congress.

"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?

Friday's development surprised several White House officials when Trump abruptly made the announcement. But the choice may have all come down to timing.

The emerging narrative was that no one wanted the job. Ayers had declined it, several Cabinet members made it known they didn't want it and even the president of the Yankees issued a statement saying he wasn't interested.

Cue Mulvaney, who 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 told CNN's Acosta that Mulvaney and Trump have been discussing the job over the past couple of days. Tired of the headlines about the chief search, Trump told Mulvaney he had a job to fill and and the OMB director said he preferred to do it on a temporary basis.

Having said that, this source stresses Mulvaney is "champing at the bit" to do the job as he views himself as a "turnaround specialist."

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.

This story has been updated.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115088

Reported Deaths: 3255
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7973177
DeSoto703979
Harrison522384
Jackson457884
Rankin394086
Madison383194
Lee357380
Forrest304678
Jones292484
Washington258399
Lafayette250443
Lauderdale2478135
Lamar225538
Oktibbeha202454
Bolivar201677
Neshoba1849111
Lowndes179962
Panola170040
Leflore167187
Sunflower162349
Warren154855
Monroe150673
Pontotoc147220
Marshall143129
Lincoln140157
Pike138456
Copiah137536
Scott125429
Coahoma124937
Grenada122638
Yazoo122234
Simpson121549
Union118825
Tate116839
Leake115041
Holmes114760
Itawamba113925
Pearl River113660
Adams108544
Prentiss106120
Wayne101722
Alcorn100112
George99218
Covington97527
Marion95042
Tippah90322
Newton86627
Chickasaw85526
Tallahatchie84526
Winston84121
Hancock84028
Tishomingo81241
Attala79426
Clarke75851
Clay69321
Jasper68717
Walthall63927
Calhoun62612
Noxubee59817
Smith59416
Montgomery54923
Yalobusha54514
Claiborne53716
Tunica53517
Lawrence51814
Perry49423
Carroll49312
Greene47818
Stone47514
Humphreys43816
Amite42513
Quitman4206
Jefferson Davis41011
Webster37613
Benton3416
Wilkinson33820
Kemper32615
Sharkey28514
Jefferson27610
Franklin2423
Choctaw2086
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 155915

Reported Deaths: 2674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23129377
Mobile16849315
Tuscaloosa10296140
Montgomery10197197
Madison928096
Shelby733863
Baldwin663769
Lee653465
Calhoun456761
Marshall438150
Etowah426551
Houston414834
Morgan412035
DeKalb338829
Elmore320053
St. Clair292542
Limestone284230
Walker277292
Talladega265335
Cullman244024
Lauderdale226242
Jackson214915
Franklin205231
Autauga204831
Colbert200532
Russell19443
Blount192525
Chilton186932
Dallas186527
Coffee176311
Dale175151
Covington174029
Escambia172530
Chambers135044
Clarke134317
Pike133513
Tallapoosa131787
Marion107629
Barbour10319
Marengo100822
Butler100740
Winston92213
Geneva9007
Lawrence85032
Pickens84718
Bibb82814
Randolph82316
Hale76730
Washington74412
Clay74112
Cherokee73314
Lowndes70928
Henry7086
Bullock64817
Monroe64610
Crenshaw60630
Perry5896
Fayette57413
Wilcox56712
Conecuh56113
Cleburne5568
Macon53420
Lamar4905
Sumter47221
Choctaw39012
Greene34216
Coosa2033
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