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 faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report 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 MulvaneyTrump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems, GOP dig in for public impeachment hearings Mulvaney drops plans to file lawsuit on impeachment testimony 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 CruzTrump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition Trump has officially appointed one in four circuit court judges On The Money: Retirement savings bill blocked in Senate after fight over amendments | Stopgap bill may set up December spending fight | Hardwood industry pleads for relief from Trump trade war MORE's (R-Texas) former presidential campaign manager, Jeff Roe, and Mike Davis, who led the Senate effort to confirm Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughDivided Supreme Court leans toward allowing Trump to end DACA Hirono memoir due in 2021 The Hill's Morning Report - Witness transcripts plow ground for public impeachment testimony 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 BidenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report Giuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry 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 protege emerges as Kentucky's next rising star Hillicon Valley: Schumer questions Army over use of TikTok | Federal court rules against random searches of travelers' phones | Groups push for election security funds in stopgap bill | Facebook's new payment feature | Disney+ launch hit by glitches McConnell, GOP leaders say they won't be watching House impeachment hearing 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 PelosiGiuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry Brindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Overnight Health Care: Top health official defends contract payments to Trump allies | Vaping advocates confident Trump will turn from flavor ban | Sanders gets endorsement from nurses union 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.