Last December, Donald Trump’s desperate search for a new chief of staff became the target of mockery as clowns like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum drew serious consideration for the job. Spurned by his first few choices, Trump eventually settled on Mick Mulvaney, whose qualifications included his decent golf game. Six months later, the honeymoon is over.
According to a new report in Politico, Trump is “tiring of Mulvaney.”
In recent weeks, Trump has been snapping at his acting chief of staff with some frequency, and expressing greater frustration with him than usual, according to four current and former senior administration officials.
It’s not easy to explain why. Mulvaney hasn’t done anything to get on Trump’s bad side. But he’s been around long enough for Trump to begin to find flaws. And now Trump’s doing that thing he does when he’s about to fire someone, Politico reports:
“The president doesn’t have any good reason to dislike Mulvaney in terms of him being disloyal,” said one Republican close to the White House. Still, the Republican added that the president has asked people in recent months what kind of leadership they think Mulvaney is offering in the West Wing and the value he is adding, often a sign the president is souring on a staffer.
Trump is also a mercurial tyrant whose opinions of a person can swing on something as slight as an untimely cough. Mulvaney learned that the hard way last week.
Trump’s reaction to Mulvaney’s cough was, according to some of the president’s allies, a “public airing of Trump’s newfound irritation with his acting chief.” Others told Politico it was an expected reaction from a known germophobe. Maybe it was both.
Then there are the “murmurs” about Mulvaney’s growing “too accustomed to the trappings of White House power.”
Mulvaney and his top aides have stacked the West Wing so far with 11 loyal staffers from the Office of Management and Budget, where he previously worked. Additionally, he has used Camp David — typically a getaway spot for presidents, not staffers — to host three different retreats with White House senior staff, top health care officials and congressional lawmakers. This, combined with his tendency to load up Air Force One trips with favored administration aides, has made him a target of criticism among some West Wing staff.
And if there’s one thing we know Trump won’t tolerate, it’s graft (unless it’s his own, his family’s, or that of political allies who haven’t recently coughed near him).