Mick Mulvaney is apparently having a great time even as the rest of the nation suffers.
Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, really just wants Trump to be happy, according to a stunning new profile in the Atlantic. And because of that, Mulvaney is utterly uninterested in providing Trump any guidance or following any of his own principles.
Mulvaney's title — "acting chief of staff" — isn't even a thing. The chief of staff position doesn't require Senate confirmation, so there's no need to designate someone as "acting" while awaiting that confirmation. Trump can install whoever he wants in the chief of staff job whenever he wants. Mulvaney seems to know that, and know that keeping the job means keeping a notoriously mercurial boss happy.
And the Atlantic reports that Mulvaney seems genuinely happy to oblige:
His job is to “make the president successful and help the president get reelected,” Mulvaney said—and in the meantime, enjoy the perks: unfettered access to the leader of the free world, influence in key policy decisions, and an office with a fireplace down the hall from the Oval. Mulvaney, of course, has an incentive to say all is terrific, all the time, in the White House, in order to appease the boss. Still, he comes across as a guy relishing the ride for as long as it will last.
One way Mulvaney pleases Trump is by letting the White House be a disorganized mess. So many aides now participate in senior staff meetings that there are, as one White House official put it, people "hanging from the ceiling." Where poor John Kelly, Trump's last chief of staff, actually saw it as his job to control access to Trump, particularly where his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner were concerned, Mulvaney revels in giving them whatever access they want.
Mulvaney, intentionally or not, confirmed two things everyone already knew about Trump: he's lazy and his eating habits are terrible. Mulvaney says he gets to work at 7 a.m., but Trump doesn't come down from the residence until around 11 a.m. Mulvaney also said he's gained 10 pounds since taking the job because he eats with Trump, and Trump "eats hamburgers all the time."
Mulvaney's oddly freewheeling demeanor here is at odds with his past. It's worth remembering that Mulvaney is also still the director of the Office of Management and Budget, though he's handed over the management of that department to his deputy. But he doesn't seem to care all that much about budgets these days anyway.
When Mulvaney was in Congress — and a Democrat was in the White House — he was a notorious budget hawk and Tea Partier. Now, he's happy to look the other way, declaring that he knows the administration is "spending a bunch of money on stuff we’re not supposed to" but that isn't Trump's fault. No, it's the fault of Republicans in Congress for passing bills that require money be spent.
Mulvaney also told the Atlantic that his former House colleague Mark Meadows (R-NC), had accused him of "losing" when it comes to conservative ideas like slashing government spending.
Mulvaney's retort to that? "I told him, 'Yeah, but at least I’m losing at the very highest levels.'"
Some of Trump's worst impulses, such as firing Mueller himself, were derailed by aides who refused to carry out his wishes or waited until Trump's notoriously short attention span alighted on something else. Mulvaney, though, is someone who is "loath to police" Trump.
Normally, a chief of staff provides both guidance and guardrails, helping a president navigate complex situations and ensuring they receive honest and forthright advice. With Mulvaney, Trump has found a person who does none of these things — and that's exactly the way he likes it.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.