Current and former administration officials are urging the White House to hire a new chief strategist as President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' On student loans, Biden doesn't have an answer yet Grill company apologizes after sending meatloaf recipe on same day of rock star's death 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 MulvaneyMick MulvaneyTrump's relocation of the Bureau of Land Management was part of a familiar Republican playbook Jan. 6 committee issues latest round of subpoenas for rally organizers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - To vote or not? Pelosi faces infrastructure decision 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 CruzHillicon Valley — Senate panel advances major antitrust bill Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine MORE's (R-Texas) former presidential campaign manager, Jeff Roe, and Mike Davis, who led the Senate effort to confirm Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSupreme Court sides with murder defendant in major evidentiary ruling Ossoff and Collins clash over her past support for voting rights legislation Supreme Court rejects Trump's bid to shield records from Jan. 6 committee 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 BidenSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion The Fed has a clear mandate to mitigate climate risks Biden says Roe v. Wade under attack like 'never before' 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 McConnellMcConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 WATCH: The Hill recaps the top stories of the week 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 PelosiMan who threatened to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi pleads guilty to federal charges The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden clarifies his remarks on Russia 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.