Trump picks budget head Mulvaney to be next chief of staff

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Friday picked budget director Mick Mulvaney to be his acting chief of staff, ending a chaotic search in which several top contenders took themselves out of the running for the job.

“Mick has done an outstanding job while in the Administration,” Trump tweeted. “I look forward to working with him in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Trump added that his current chief of staff, John Kelly, will be staying until the end of the year. “He is a GREAT PATRIOT and I want to personally thank him for his service!” Trump wrote.

Trump’s first pick for the job, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers, took himself out of the running last weekend and decided to leave the White House instead. The decision caught the president and many senior staffers by surprise, and Trump soon found that others he considered front-runners were not interested in the job.

It was not immediately clear why the president decided to make Mulvaney’s appointment temporary. One senior White House official said there was no time limit on the appointment and Mulvaney would fill the role of chief of staff indefinitely, regardless of the “acting” title.

Key to his selection: Mulvaney and the president get along and the president likes him personally. Additionally, Trump prized the former congressman’s knowledge of Capitol Hill and political instincts as the White House prepares for a Democratic-controlled House and the president’s upcoming re-election campaign.

The decision came suddenly. Trump had grown frustrated with the length of the search and the growing perception that no one of stature wanted the job, according to one person familiar with his thinking.

Mulvaney received the news before the president tweeted his announcement. They spoke face to face Friday afternoon at a meeting that was supposed to be about the budget and spoke by phone later in the evening, according to a second White House official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the personnel matter on the record.

“This is a tremendous honor,” Mulvaney tweeted. “I look forward to working with the President and the entire team. It’s going to be a great 2019!”

Mulvaney, who will be Trump’s third chief of staff, will now take on his third job in the administration. He is head of the Office of Management and Budget, and for a time simultaneously led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.