Budget head picked as chief of staff
WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump has picked budget director Mick Mulvaney to be his acting chief of staff, ending a chaotic search in which several top contenders took themselves out of the running for the job.
“Mick has done an outstanding job while in the Administration,” Trump tweeted on Friday. “I look forward to working with him in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Trump added that 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 wrote.
Trump’s first pick for the job, VicePresident Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers, took himself out of the running last weekend and decided to leave the White House instead. The decision caught the president and many senior staffers by surprise, and Trump soon found that others he considered front-runners were not interested in the job, including former governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, who ruled himself out on Friday.
It was not immediately clear why the president decided to make Mulvaney’s appointment temporary. One senior White House official said there was no time limit on the appointment and Mulvaney would fill the role of chief of staff indefinitely, regardless of the “acting” title.
Mulvaney and the president get along and the president likes him personally. Additionally, Trump prized the former congressman’s knowledge of Capitol Hill and political instincts as the White House prepares for a Democratic-controlled House and the president’s upcoming re-election campaign.
Meanwhile, US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, facing federal investigations into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest, will be leaving the administration at year’s end, President Donald Trump said on Saturday.
In his resignation letter, Zinke said “vicious and politically motivated attacks” against him had “created an unfortunate distraction” in fulfilling the agency’s mission.
Trump, in tweeting Zinke’s departure, said the former Montana congressman “accomplished much during his tenure” and that a replacement would be announced next week. The Cabinet post requires Senate confirmation.
Zinke is leaving weeks before Democrats take control of the House, a shift in power that promises to sharpen the probes into his conduct.
The letter, dated on Saturday, said Zinke’s last day would be Jan 2. It was not clear whether Zinke had already submitted the letter when Trump tweeted.