Following a couple of less than ideal public appearances by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney in recent weeks — including a news conference about the site for the 2020 G-7 economic summit and Ukraine issues, as well as an appearance on Fox News Sunday — speculation mounted in the media that President Donald Trump was considering replacing Mulvaney in that important role.
The two top names floated as potential replacements were White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, but Trump shot down that speculation immediately as nothing more than “fake news,” the Washington Examiner reported.
Trump’s swift response
Mulvaney appeared to contradict himself and the president during a news conference in which he spoke about “quid pro quos” being a normal routine in terms of U.S. foreign aid, including to Ukraine — a true statement that nevertheless requires some nuanced discussion. He then went on to have a combative interview with Fox News host Chris Wallace where he attempted to clarify his remarks, but only confused things further.
That led Bloomberg News to publish an article — based on anonymous sources — suggesting that Trump had been privately discussing getting rid of Mulvaney and replacing him, possibly with Conway, Mnuchin, or one of several other names mentioned.
But just hours after that article was published, the president tweeted: “Wrong, never even discussed this with Kellyanne Conway or Steve Mnuchin. Just more Fake News!”
The Bloomberg piece asserted that Trump had actually already been considering replacing Mulvaney due to displeasure with the way his chief of staff had been handling the Democrat-controlled House’s “impeachment inquiry” and had been floating various names to others to gauge reactions.
Granted, several White House aides said Trump doing so was basically standard practice, as he liked to keep everyone on their toes, and others in the White House made it clear that, as far as they knew, Mulvaney wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
In an email to Bloomberg, White House spokesman Judd Deere said, “Mick Mulvaney’s standing in the White House has not changed. He is still the acting chief of staff and has the president’s confidence.”
Mulvaney safe for now
Conway would seemingly be a good fit as Trump’s chief of staff, given the fact that she has proven her loyalty and stood by his side since the 2016 campaign.
Trump reportedly also liked Mnuchin as a potential chief of staff, but some worried that removing his stable presence from the Treasury Department could prove disruptive to the stock market.
Other names reportedly floated as potential replacements for Mulvaney included Deputy Chief of Staff Chris Liddell, former Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, a loyal political operative named Wayne Berman, and even former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, among others.
However, at least as of now, it appears that Mulvaney — Trump’s third chief of staff after having replaced Gen. John Kelly, who replaced Reince Priebus — isn’t going anywhere.