After a year as Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney has yet to shed the “acting” prefix from his title. And perhaps he’ll never need to—according to Politico, Mulvaney is preparing to leave the White House following the conclusion of Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, opening up potentially two high profile roles in the administration.
Mulvaney, who also serves in Trump’s cabinet as director of the Office of Management and Budget, assumed chief of staff duties from John Kelly in January. Unlike his predecessor, who attempted to impose order on the chaos of the Trump administration, the former congressman has famously taken a less hands-on approach, preferring instead to “let Trump be Trump.” But even being a sycophant doesn’t guarantee survival in this White House. Over the summer, Trump didn’t even try to hid his annoyance when Mulvaney had the audacity to cough during an interview he was giving. “You know I don’t like that,” Trump told Mulvaney. “You just can’t—you just can’t cough.”
Whether it was “Coughgate,” Mulvaney’s disastrous October press conference in which he accidentally confessed to the pressure campaign against Ukraine that got Trump impeached, or some unreported offense, Trump has begun to talk openly about replacing Mulvaney. In the West Wing, Mulvaney is reportedly inching toward irrelevance already. “Mick has decided not to be in control,” a former West Wing official told my colleague Gabriel Sherman this week. Added a prominent Republican, “Jared [Kushner] treats Mick like the help. There’s no pushback.”
Politico’s reporting bears this out. “He’s like a kid,” a Republican close to the White House told the outlet of Mulvaney on Friday. “His role at the dinner table is to be seen and not heard.”
It’s unclear precisely when Mulvaney would step down, or whether he’ll leave administration entirely, or just the chief of staff role. But it’s possible Trump already has a replacement in mind. Rep. Mark Meadows announced this week that he will retire from Congress, possibly mid-term, to work “more closely” with Trump. Meadows has gone after the chief of staff role before, after Kelly was forced out last year, and said this week that he’s been in “discussions” with the president for some unnamed job. He also has Kushner, who released a glowing statement on his behalf, very much on his side.
More Great Stories From Vanity Fair
— Wildly incriminating emails show the White House knew Trump was extorting Ukraine
— Is Rudy Giuliani truly in trouble?
— The secret life and strange death of Quadriga cofounder, Gerald Cotten
— The hunt for Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged enabler Ghislaine Maxwell
— New polling suggests Democrats’ impeachment push could alienate key voters
— From the Archive: Inside Jeffrey Wigand’s epic multibillion-dollar struggle
Looking for more? Sign up for our daily Hive newsletter and never miss a story.