On Friday, President Trump announced via Twitter that he would be appointing current director of his Office of Management and Budget and recent acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as acting chief of staff, replacing outgoing John Kelly. That move wasn’t completely unexpected from those who follow the White House closely. In recent days, it became clear that many top candidates simply weren’t interested in the job, and that those who were interested (see Christie, Chris) would present more hazard than help in running the West Wing.
Trump has been close with Mulvaney since the administration’s successful tax reform in 2017. Mulvaney has been a strong loyalist inside the administration; in 2017, he completely disclaimed chaos inside the administration in an interview with CNBC, explaining, “I read many, many times that, let's see, Steven Bannon doesn't get along with Reince Priebus. And neither of 'em get along with Jared Kushner. And nobody gets along with Gary Cohn. That's all entirely false.”
Note to reader: it wasn’t entirely false.
But Mulvaney’s good relationships with those surrounding President Trump will certainly help him grease operations inside the White House. Mulvaney isn’t a strong personality who feels the need to challenge the president or prevent access to other top advisors. For Trump, picking Mulvaney is effectively as close as possible to picking himself for chief of staff. What’s more, Trump gets to operate from within the White House confines, which means no need to generate new chemistry in the West Wing.
Mulvaney is about as solid a pick as Trump could make under the circumstances. The biggest question will be whether he’s capable of helping the president avoid the investigative pitfalls that will surely be presented by a Democratic Congress hell-bent on picking apart every aspect of Trump’s White House, business, and life.