WASHINGTON — 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.
He most recently served as the Office of Management and Budget director. While Mulvaney was named as an acting chief of staff, he will step down from his role as OMB director, a White House official said. A senior administration official said there is “no time limit” for Mulvaney to remain in the top White House post.
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.
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.
Mulvaney also 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.