Trump replaces chief of staff Mick Mulvaney with Rep. Mark Meadows

WASHINGTON — President Trump is getting (another) new chief of staff. Trump announced the move in a pair of tweets on Friday evening revealing he would replace acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney with Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. It’s a switch that replaces an official whose relationship with the president had become strained with one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress. In his tweets, Trump emphasized his strong rapport with Meadows.

“I am pleased to announce that Congressman Mark Meadows will become White House Chief of Staff. I have long known and worked with Mark, and the relationship is a very good one,” Trump wrote, adding, “I want to thank Acting Chief Mick Mulvaney for having served the Administration so well. He will become the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland. Thank you!”

Notably, Trump indicated Meadows would receive the official chief of staff title. Mulvaney, who assumed the role in January 2019, had always been referred to as the “acting chief of staff.” Shortly after Mulvaney took on this role, which is one of the most powerful positions in the White House, an official spoke to reporters and said his title had the “acting” designation simply because “that’s what the president wants.”

President Trump with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, January 2020. (Susan Walsh/AP)
President Trump with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, January 2020. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Mulvaney, a former congressman, also served as director of the Office of Management and Budget and as acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In his time in the chief of staff role, Mulvaney never shed the interim title and he reportedly fell out of the president’s favor last year. Multiple sources said Trump was particularly displeased with a briefing Mulvaney gave to reporters last October as the scandal over aid to Ukraine was growing. During the press conference, Mulvaney indicated that Trump’s desire to see Ukraine investigate the business dealings Hunter Biden had in the country was part of his reason for withholding aid. Trump allies felt Mulvaney’s comments complicated the efforts to defend against the allegation the pressure on Ukraine was an improper quid pro quo. That accusation was central to Democrats’ ultimately unsuccessful impeachment bid against the president.

After Trump announced the chief of staff switch, a source close to the president texted a simple response when asked about the reason behind the decision: “It’s time.”

“The relationship just ran its course,” the source said of Trump and Mulvaney.

Meadows, who served as chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus from 2017 until last year, has developed a reputation as one of Trump’s closest allies. He regularly converses with the president and served as one of Trump’s defenders during his impeachment trial. Meadows did not respond to a request for comment.

Mark Meadows
Rep. Mark Meadows. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Trump had two chiefs of staff prior to Mulvaney — former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and retired Gen. John Kelly. In a White House that has seen record turnover, the current change-up comes amid a new push to oust staffers deemed insufficiently supportive of the president.

In the aftermath of the announcement, some influential Trump allies cheered Meadows’s selection. Kay James, president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that has worked closely with the Trump administration on policy and judicial picks, quickly issued a statement praising Meadows.

“Congressman Mark Meadows is a strong leader, principled conservative, and excellent choice to serve as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff,” James said. “In this new role at the White House, he will be in a position to advance the president’s agenda and promote conservative policy ideas.”

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