Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) will replace Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as White House chief of staff, becoming the fourth person to hold that position since President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
President Donald Trump announced the news late Friday through his Twitter account, giving no explanations as to why the change was made. While thanking Mulvaney for his service, Trump simultaneously appointed him as the United States special envoy for Northern Ireland.
….I want to thank Acting Chief Mick Mulvaney for having served the Administration so well. He will become the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 7, 2020
Although the announcement was abrupt, it was a change that had also been anticipated for a while. Trump reportedly wanted to fire Mulvaney on multiple occasions during his 14 month tenure, and according to CNN, grew especially displeased with the former acting chief of staff after Mulvaney admitted that Trump attempted to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals.
Mulvaney later tried to retract this admission, saying, “I have news for everybody: Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” but the damage had already been done — albeit not to a devastating enough degree for Republicans in the Senate to vote for the president’s removal following his impeachment.
Despite the president’s reported dissatisfaction with how Mulvaney handled the Ukraine scandal in general, close aides urged the president to refrain from dismissing his now former chief of staff to avoid causing unnecessary turmoil during his Senate impeachment trial, according to CNN.
After his acquittal in the Senate, many had predicted Mulvaney would be part of Trump’s major restructuring of staff — a restructuring that included the dismissal of former US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, who testified during impeachment hearings, and the reassignment of another impeachment witness (and his brother), Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
In the months following the impeachment trial, Mulvaney began to appear less and less by Trump’s side, most recently missing the president’s state visit to India. Mulvaney learned about the news of his replacement the same day Trump tweeted it out, according to NBC News, although he was reportedly told before the president made his announcement on Twitter.
Meadows, who takes Mulvaney’s place, is a Trump ally who has made his mark as a fierce defender of the president since the 2016 presidential campaign cycle. Sources told the New York Times that Trump had tapped Meadows on Thursday — reportedly before Mulvaney knew he was to be ousted — to become his newest chief of staff. The North Carolina congressman, who had announced that he would not seek reelection last year, will now be the fourth person to take on that title in three years.
“It’s an honor to be selected by President Trump to serve alongside him and his team,” Meadows said in a statement. “This President and his administration have a long list of incredible victories they’ve delivered to the country during this first term, with the best yet to come — and I look forward to helping build on that success and staying in the fight for the forgotten men and women of America.”
Mark Meadows’ hiring is a key example of how Trump rewards his closest allies
Loyalty is one of the most important qualities to Trump when he hires staff, and Meadows perfectly fits this criteria, having been one of Trump’s closest and earliest allies.
When other Republicans had hesitated to rally behind Trump during the 2016 campaign season, Meadows became one of the first to throw his support behind him. He appeared with Trump on the campaign trail in North Carolina in June 2016, just after the Republican National Convention.
And when the impeachment inquiry began, Meadows, a member of the House Oversight Committee, rose as a vocal defender of Trump. He often used the president’s talking points — calling the inquiry a “sham partisan process” and claiming that “everybody has their impression of what truth is” — while appearing on conservative talk shows to shut down mounting momentum for impeachment.
Meadows’ work didn’t go unnoticed. During his post-impeachment speech, Trump took the time to thank Meadows for his help during the trial:
“Mark Meadows is an extraordinary guy,” he said. “He’s an incredibly talented man, not just as a politician but as a human being, he’s incredible. The way he worked, and Jim and all of you guys, the way they worked, it was like their life was at stake.”
To which Meadows responded: “I just wanted to say that this reflection today is a small reflection of the kind of support you have all across the country. We’ve got your back.”
Meanwhile, Meadows also showed his loyalty with money: His campaign has spent at least $11,435 at Trump’s Washington, DC hotel, according to a September 2019 report from the Washington Post.
Considering Meadows long history of vocal support for Trump, it’s not a surprise that he was selected for the chief of staff position. Many had predicted that he would take on a role in the White House at some point, something Meadows himself alluded to in his farewell statement when he announced that he wouldn’t be running for reelection.
“My work with President Trump and his administration is only beginning,” he wrote. “This President has accomplished incredible results for the country in just 3 years, and I’m fully committed to staying in the fight with him and his team to build on those successes and deliver on his promises for the years to come.”