WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump abruptly named Mr Mick Mulvaney, currently the director of the Office of Management and Budget, as acting White House chief of staff, elevating a conservative ideologue with congressional experience to steer the administration through a treacherous phase.
Mr Mulvaney replaces Mr John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general who failed to impose discipline on a chaotic West Wing and was ousted just over a week ago by Mr Trump after the President grew tired of Mr Kelly's restrictive management.
The White House sent mixed messages last Friday about the length of Mr Mulvaney's tenure and whether he would be named to the post permanently, with aides saying Mr Trump wanted to preserve flexibility.
Mr Mulvaney's tentative appointment caps - for now, at least - Mr Trump's extraordinarily public week-long search for his third chief of staff in two years, after the President's first choice turned down the job and other candidates removed themselves from consideration.
Earlier on Friday, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie was described by White House aides as a leading contender for the job after he met privately Mr Trump and first lady Melania Trump for more than an hour in the White House residence on Thursday night. But Mr Christie called Mr Trump at midday to take his name off the list.
Mr Trump grew deeply frustrated at the rejections and the media narrative that no one of high stature wanted to be his chief of staff, according to a senior White House official, so he decided suddenly last Friday afternoon to tap Mr Mulvaney.
"I am pleased to announce that Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management & Budget, will be named Acting White House Chief of Staff, replacing General John Kelly, who has served our Country with distinction," Mr Trump wrote on Twitter.
"Mick has done an outstanding job while in the Administration." He added, "I look forward to working with him in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! John will be staying until the end of the year. He is a GREAT PATRIOT and I want to personally thank him for his service!"
Mr Trump selected Mr Mulvaney because of the relationship the two men have forged during the first two years of the administration and because of Mr Mulvaney's six years serving in Congress, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity.
Mr Mulvaney has held several hats in the Trump administration. He has served as budget director since the beginning, but also held the role of acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for the past year until his permanent successor, Ms Kathleen Kraninger, was sworn in earlier this week.
Mr Mulvaney was elected to the House in 2010 as a South Carolina member of the Tea Party movement and, as a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, was known for his professed support of fiscal conservatism.
He was among the group of House Republicans who called for severe spending cuts and helped lead a government shutdown in 2013.