The surprise announcement that Donald Trump had chosen his budget secretary, Mick Mulvaney, to replace John Kelly as his chief of staff came very abruptly as the media reported Trump’s frustration at being turned down by several other candidates. It wasn’t simply that humiliation, however, that caused Trump to make a rushed decision.
Jim Acosta of CNN reports that Trump’s decision to announce it on a Friday afternoon immediately before departing for a Christmas vacation was intended to change the narrative of the news cycle, which is focused on the many criminal investigations into Trump, his family, and several of his associates.
‘The timing is very noteworthy. The president appears to be dangling a bright, shiny object on this late Friday evening, selecting his budget director Mick Mulvaney as his acting chief of staff.’
WH official trying to clean up Mulvaney selection to WH pool: "There’s no time limit. He’s the acting chief of staff, which means he’s the chief of staff. He got picked because the president liked him."
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) December 14, 2018
One interesting piece of Trump’s announcement was that he referred to Mulvaney as the incoming “acting chief of staff,” which would generally mean that he is either temporarily filling a position or that he must wait to fully move into the position until he can be confirmed by Congress. However, a chief of staff does not need to be confirmed, so it appears that Mulvaney was simply ensuring that he would have a quick exit strategy in place.
‘We should point out he has only been selected as an ‘acting chief of staff. The president apparently trying to change the news cycle here, but even today with a momentous decision as naming a new chief of staff or an acting chief of staff, it is going to be tough to change the narrative of this news cycle with his former attorney, Michael Cohen speaking out, and not just to the special counsel’s office.’
Important to note the VP's chief of staff Ayers offered to serve on an interim basis. But Trump said no. Suddenly, after a week of Russia and Michael Cohen news, Trump says ok to an "acting" chief. https://t.co/bMW41YWdBh
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) December 14, 2018
The decision was a spur-of-the-moment one, a result of Trump simply wanting to change the narrative and distract from his growing legal troubles. He had already been rejected by his other choices, including Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers, who was also willing only to serve as “acting chief of staff” while Trump wanted a permanent replacement for Kelly. Trump eventually had to settle for an acting chief of staff, anyway.
MSNBC producer Kyle Griffin said that:
‘Trump grew deeply frustrated at the rejections and the media narrative that no one of high stature wanted to be his chief of staff, a senior White House official told WaPo, so he decided suddenly on Friday afternoon to tap Mick Mulvaney.’
Tired of the chief of staff search headlines, Trump went to Mulvaney and said he had a job to fill. Mulvaney said he would do it on a temp basis, I’m told. But source says Mulvaney is eager to do the job and not worried about the challenge of dealing wirh Trump.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) December 15, 2018
The relationship may very well be just as contentious as Trump’s prior relationships with chiefs of staff Reince Priebus and John Kelly. Mulvaney has made several disparaging comments about Trump in the past during his run for congress in South Carolina.
The Daily Beast reported:
‘During a debate with his then-congressional challenger, Democrat Fran Person, on Nov. 2 of 2016, less than a week before Trump was elected president, then-congressman Mulvaney was blunt with those gathered at York Middle School in York, South Carolina.
‘After decrying the Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as a liberal who would take the country in the wrong direction, Mulvaney said he was supporting Trump, essentially by default.’
‘”Yes, I am supporting Donald Trump, but I’m doing so despite the fact that I think he’s a terrible human being,” he said.
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