Trump urged to hire chief strategist for impeachment fight

Current and former administration officials are urging the White House to hire a new chief strategist as President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE’s allies grow frustrated with the administration’s response to the House impeachment inquiry.

The role of White House chief strategist has been vacant since Stephen Bannon was forced out of the position more than two years ago.

Trump has so far refused to launch an impeachment “war room,” with one source close to the White House saying the president believes it would make him look politically weak and another describing it as “political hocus pocus.”


Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneySenate Republicans must stand up for the rule of law and ensure a fair, open proceeding Democrats cap impeachment arguments with focus on Trump stonewalling Lindsey Graham will oppose subpoena of Hunter Biden MORE has been the White House’s primary point person on impeachment, but he appears to be on shaky ground after recent stumbles have created new political problems for the president.

Mulvaney’s gaffes have Trump’s allies pressuring those around the president to consider bringing in a veteran political operative who could take control of the impeachment inquiry by coordinating with GOP lawmakers and providing crisis communications help.

They believe the job is too big for the president or his chief of staff, who are spread thin by their other duties.

“All of the political team that was at the White House has left for the campaign and they’ve had the chief strategist job open since Bannon left,” said one former White House official. “Now is the perfect time to fill it. Silo everything related to impeachment under that one person. It’s clear at this point that you can’t have the chief of staff or anyone else running point on this. They have too much going on.”

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzJordan says he thinks trial will be over by next week The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power GOP-Biden feud looms over impeachment trial MORE's (R-Texas) former presidential campaign manager, Jeff Roe, and Mike Davis, who led the Senate effort to confirm Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughCollins walks impeachment tightrope Supreme Court sharply divided over state aid for religious schools How Citizens United altered America's political landscape MORE, are among the names being batted around, although White House officials said they’re not aware of plans to bring anyone on at this time.

Trump’s allies acknowledged it could be a difficult position to fill. Many of the top political operatives in Trump World have either joined the official reelection campaign, joined outside pro-Trump groups or are happily out of the fray with consulting gigs inside and outside of Washington.

And not all of Trump’s allies think the president would be well-served by adding to the White House political team.

Former White House counsel John Dowd said a new political strategist would only serve to complicate matters. Dowd said the White House counsel and Republican members of the House would act as an adequate firewall for Trump in his impeachment defense.

“I have never seen a corrupt abuse of congressional process cured by politics,” Dowd said. “The president is very ably represented by counsel and ably supported in the House by the Minority Leader and his colleagues.”

Still, the past few days have revealed a host of new troubles for Trump on the impeachment front.

A top diplomat to Ukraine told House investigators on Tuesday that he believed Trump withheld political aid to Ukraine in an effort to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE.

Democrats described the testimony as the beginning of a “sea change” in the impeachment inquiry.

Also on Tuesday, GOP lawmakers rebuked the president for referring to the impeachment inquiry as a “lynching.”

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators MORE (R-Ky.) appeared to contradict Trump, who earlier this month said the GOP leader had told him the phone call with Zelensky was “innocent” and “perfect.”

“We have not had any conversations on this subject,” McConnell said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Mulvaney has reportedly been feuding with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who has been leading the administration’s legal defense against impeachment.

Mulvaney has also spent the past several days cleaning up his admission that security aid for Ukraine had been dependent on the country conducting the investigation into Biden. Mulvaney has since denied that there was a quid pro quo.

Polls show public opinion moving against the president in favor of impeachment, driven largely by Democrats and independents.

Still, Trump’s allies note that his support among Republicans appears to be holding strong.

They’d just like to see a more coordinated and professional response to match Democrats, who have been sticking close to a “fact sheet” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Calif.) released this week detailing how she says Trump “betrayed his oath of office, betrayed our national security and betrayed the integrity of our elections for his own personal political gain.”

“This is a full-time job,” said the former White House official. “The chief of staff needs to focus on being chief of staff. If you don’t want a war room, that’s fine. But hire the chief strategist and just put everything under that person and take care of this.”

Updated: 7:45 p.m.