Trump names Mick Mulvaney as "acting" chief of staff

Trump has found someone to take over the position of John Kelly

By Nicole Karlis

Senior Writer

Published December 14, 2018 8:35PM (EST)

 (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Donald Trump announced a change in staff on Friday evening via — where else? — Twitter: Mick Mulvaney, who currently serves as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, will become the "acting" White House chief of staff. Russell Vought, deputy budget director, is said to replace Mulvaney.

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

Trump said his current chief of staff, John Kelly, “will be staying until the end of the year."

"He is a GREAT PATRIOT and I want to personally thank him for his service!" Trump said on Twitter about Kelly.

According to the Washington Post, Mulvaney received the news before the tweet. The Post reports:

Unlike with Kelly’s appointment, Mulvaney received the news before the president tweeted his announcement. Trump and Mulvaney met face to face Friday afternoon and spoke by phone in the evening, according to a second White House official. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the personnel matter on the record.

Earlier on Friday, there were reports that Mulvaney didn't want the job. An official disputed those to The Post as well:

The first senior official disputed reports that Mulvaney wasn’t interested in the chief of staff job and said the president didn’t need to change Mulvaney’s mind, though the budget director had previously signaled disinterest. A person close to him had told reporters that Mulvaney had made clear in recent months that he would be more interested in taking over at the Treasury or Commerce Department.

It was unclear why Mulvaney’s appointment was announced as temporary — but that decision was made by the president, the first official said. The source added that Kelly was happy with the choice of Mulvaney and plans to stay on through the end of the year to assist with the transition.

Mulvaney worked on Capitol Hill from 2011 to 2017, when he represented South Carolina in Congress. He embraces hardline conservative positions, as he ran for Congress as a member of the Tea Party in 2010 and is a founding member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus. He was confirmed as director of the Office of Management and Budget in February 2017 by the Senate in a 51-49 vote. Every Democrat in the Senate voted against his confirmation, in addition to the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Mulvaney said on Twitter the job will be a "tremendous honor."

“I look forward to working with the President and the entire team," he said. "It’s going to be a great 2019!”

The announcement comes after a chaotic search with multiple potential contenders reportedly pulling themselves out of the running.

By Nicole Karlis

Nicole Karlis is a senior writer at Salon, specializing in health and science. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.

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Donald Trump John Kelly Mick Mulvaney