US President Donald Trump said on Friday that his budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, would take over as White House chief of staff on a temporary basis after former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie abruptly withdrew from consideration for the post.
Mulvaney, a former congressman who heads the White House Office of Management and Budget, would take over from retired Marine General John Kelly, who will step down from the top post in early January.
“Mick has done an outstanding job while in the administration,” Trump said in announcing the decision on Twitter. “I look forward to working with him in this new capacity.”
The decision came just hours after Christie, who had been considered a top candidate, withdrew his name.
Christie’s announcement leaves the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer as two top possibilities to replace Kelly on a long-term basis. Kushner has signalled his lack of interest, however.
Mulvaney was also in the mix, as were other people, a knowledgeable source said.
Though deemed an “acting” attorney general, Mulvaney’s term will be open-ended, according to a senior White House official speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters. The position does not require confirmation.
Before he joined the administration, Mulvaney was an outspoken member of the House Freedom Caucus, a powerful bloc of conservative Republican politicians in the House of Representatives.
This is not the first time Trump has turned to Mulvaney in a pinch.
Last November, he named Mulvaney the acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency that had been closely associated with former President Barack Obama’s tenure.
The appointment was fought in court, but Mulvaney prevailed and ran it until earlier this month, when Trump’s official pick was confirmed by the US Senate.
Mulvaney often appears on Sunday TV talk shows to defend Trump’s policies.
Trump’s first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, served for six months before leaving in July 2017.