President Trump on Friday named budget director Mick Mulvaney as his acting White House chief of staff, capping off a week of frenzied speculation about who would take over the key West Wing role.

Trump said in a pair of Twitter posts that Mulvaney would start at the beginning of next year after outgoing chief of staff John Kelly leaves his post.

“Mick has done an outstanding job while in the Administration,” Trump wrote. “I look forward to working with him in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

The president praised Kelly’s service and called the retired Marine Corps general “a GREAT PATRIOT.”

Mulvaney in a tweet called the appointment a “tremendous honor” and said “it’s going to be a great 2019!”

As his title indicates, Mulvaney, 51, will temporarily serve as chief of staff until Trump can find a permanent replacement. The president did not indicate how long the selection process will take.

{mosads}“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 they get along,” a senior administration official told reporters. 

Asked why Mulvaney was named acting chief of staff instead of simply chief of staff, the official responded “because that’s what the president wants.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday night that Mulvaney would keep his title as Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director while also serving as acting chief of staff.

Russell Vought, Mulvaney’s deputy at OMB, will take over for Mulvaney in the budget office while he focuses on his chief of staff responsibilities, Sanders said.

“Mick Mulvaney will not resign from the Office Of Management and Budget, but will spend all of his time devoted to his role as the acting Chief Of Staff for the President. Russ Vought will handle day to day operations and run OMB,” Sanders said in a statement.

It is the second time the OMB director has taken on a high-profile administration role in an acting capacity. He had led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) since November 2017 after its previous director, Obama holdover Richard Cordray, left the post. The new permanent director was sworn in this week.

Trump spent this week scrambling to choose a successor to Kelly after his first choice, Vice President Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers, turned down the job over a disagreement over how long he would serve.

Ayers’s decision came one day after Trump abruptly announced last Saturday that Kelly would be leaving his job after a tumultuous 17-month tenure.

Trump appeared sensitive to rejections from Ayers and other candidates and bristled at the emerging narrative that he was struggling to attract top talent for the job.

“For the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M will do a GREAT job!” he tweeted Friday evening.

Mulvaney’s name surfaced earlier this week as one person who could be considered for the job, but people close to the budget director indicated he was more interested in a Cabinet post.

Trump met with Mulvaney earlier Friday at the White House to discuss the Dec. 21 government funding deadline, according to the official, but emerged with the chief of staff job. Officials cited Mulvaney’s experience as a former member of Congress as a key selling point for the president.

“He knows Congress. He knows Capitol Hill,” the official said of Mulvaney, who served three terms in the House as a firebrand Republican from South Carolina.

The official noted that Mulvaney “didn’t find out about [the announcement] on Twitter.”

Mulvaney was a key figure in the Tea Party movement when he was elected in 2010 and was a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus. He became known as one of the most fiscally conservative members of Trump’s team, drafting budget requests that called for dramatic cuts to federal government.

The new acting chief faces a tall task of steering the White House through a political minefield marked by intensifying federal investigations into Trump’s associates and the 2016 campaign as well as an emboldened Democratic majority in the House.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office called Mulvaney’s appointment a sign that Trump is not interested in resolving the government-funding impasse, driven by the president’s demands for border wall funds.

“It sends a clear message that at this critical time the president would choose to elevate the architect of the last Republican government shutdown,” said Pelosi adviser Drew Hammill.

Kelly, and his predecessor Reince Priebus, also struggled to manage the president and navigate the warring factions inside the West Wing.

The president’s selection of Mulvaney came after several other candidates, including Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), announced publicly they would not take the job.

Christie said Friday he was not interested after meeting privately with Trump the previous day. The White House said Meadows was out after the two discussed it earlier in the week.

Former Trump campaign aide David Bossie also met with the president on Friday about the job.

Other people said to have been considered by the White House included Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

— Updated 9:18 p.m.

Tags chief of staff Donald Trump John Kelly Mark Meadows Mick Mulvaney Nancy Pelosi Reince Priebus Richard Cordray Rick Perry Robert Lighthizer Steven Mnuchin Trump tweets White House Chief of Staff

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