- President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he will replace acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney with Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina.
- Mulvaney will now serve as the US’s special envoy to Northern Ireland, Trump said.
- The former acting chief of staff played a central role in Trump’s efforts to strongarm Ukraine into delivering politically motivated investigations against his Democratic rival while dangling vital military aid and a White House meeting.
- Meadows, meanwhile, was one of Trump’s biggest defenders and attack dogs throughout his congressional impeachment inquiry and has cozied up to the president in recent months.
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President Donald Trump announced on Friday that Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina will replace Mick Mulvaney as the White House chief of staff.
Trump added that Mulvaney will now serve as the US’s special envoy to Northern Ireland.
Mulvaney served as acting chief of staff for more than a year while also running the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.
A former member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, Mulvaney is a hardcore loyalist and has a long record of going to bat for the president, even on fiscal issues where their views may not have traditionally aligned.
Mulvaney was a fixture in the national news over the last several months because of his deep involvement in what witnesses described as Trump’s efforts to strongarm the Ukrainian government into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over bogus allegations of corruption.
Trump’s actions – and Mulvaney’s role in facilitating them – later became the focus of a congressional impeachment inquiry.
The former acting chief of staff sparked a public firestorm in mid-October when he admitted Trump held up nearly $US400 million of taxpayer-funded military aid to Ukraine in part because he wanted the Ukrainian government to launch a politically motivated investigation into a baseless conspiracy theory targeting the Democratic Party.
The acknowledgment sent shockwaves through the White House and among the president’s allies on Capitol Hill, who for weeks had said Trump did nothing wrong by pressing for the investigation because there was no quid pro quo involved.
Mulvaney’s acknowledgment explicitly tying the aid to Trump’s demand for investigations – and his defiant command that the public “get over it” – threw a wrench into every defence that had been trotted out in the wake of the controversy.
It resulted in a hasty walk back from Mulvaney during the Sunday talk shows, and it also prompted the Justice Department and Trump’s lawyer to release rare statements distancing themselves from Mulvaney’s claims.
That said, Mulvaney’s job was in peril even before his disastrous press briefing. The Atlantic reported that the president had been souring on Mulvaney for weeks since the Ukraine controversy erupted, and his unforced error only exacerbated his situation.
Meadows, meanwhile, is also a member of the House Freedom Caucus and is one of Trump’s biggest attack dogs on Capitol Hill. After House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry into Trump in September, Meadows was frequently seen conversing with Trump at the White House as the president strategised about how to emerge from the investigation unscathed.
The North Carolina congressman announced in December that he would not seek re-election and would leave Congress at the end of his term in January 2021.
He strongly hinted, however, at his future plans to work with the president.
“For everything there is a season. After prayerful consideration and discussion with family, today I’m announcing that my time serving Western North Carolina in Congress will come to a close at the end of this term,” Meadows said in a statement. “My work with President Trump and his administration is only beginning.”