Trump tries on a fourth chief of staff in the middle of a devastating crisis

In the coming weeks, Meadows is expected to make personnel changes to the leadership of both the Domestic Policy Council, which is led by Mulvaney ally Joe Grogan, and the Office of Legislative Affairs, led by Eric Ueland, formerly a top Senate leadership aide who earned wide praise for his work alongside Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in negotiating the recent economic package.

The timing of these changes remains unclear to close Trump advisers, given the all-consuming focus within the White House of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Meadows sought to bring a calming influence into the West Wing this past week, according to senior administration officials. He did not just meet with top officials like Kushner or Ivanka Trump who he already knows well but with a wide range of staff to gain a better understanding of the breadth of their duties. One former senior administration official joked that it really wasn’t accurate to call this past week Meadows’ first on the job week since he’d already been such a constant presence in the White House.

Unlike Mulvaney, who staffed the office with a cadre of aides that included an attorney and his own national security adviser, Meadows has arrived with a staff of four. One of those is his longtime aide and now senior adviser to the chief of staff, Ben Williamson, and a scheduler, who all have credentials and résumés that have pleased Trump’s conservative base. Meadows and Williamson did not respond to requests for comment.

The biggest challenge for Meadows is succeeding where Trump’s three prior chiefs of staff failed, even with their wildly divergent approaches. In each instance, Trump tired of their leadership styles and sidelined them for months before eventually firing them.

Priebus tried to staff the White House with former aides from the Republican National Committee, his former shop, and he tried to attend every meeting, sticking by the president’s side nonstop in an effort to maintain his power.

Kelly deployed a more military-style approach, where he initially restricted access to top meetings and the list of who could reach Trump directly by phone. It, too, failed.

Mulvaney tried the opposite approach from Kelly, vowing to allow Trump to do as he pleased and speak to whomever he wanted while Mulvaney controlled the staff. That did not work, either. Kushner essentially became the shadow chief of staff in that power vacuum, and Mulvaney was ultimately excluded from a number of major personnel decisions and key moves including during impeachment.

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