‘His own fiefdom’: Mulvaney builds ‘an empire for the right wing’ as Trump’s chief of staff ...
The [Acosta] episode illustrates the growing influence wielded by Mulvaney, a former tea party lawmaker who has built what one senior administration official called “his own fiefdom” centered on pushing conservative policies — while mostly steering clear of the Trump-related pitfalls that tripped up his predecessors by employing a “Let Trump be Trump” ethos.
This account of Mulvaney’s rising power is based on interviews with 32 White House aides, current and former administration officials, lawmakers and legislative staffers, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. Mulvaney and the White House declined to make him available for an interview.
Mulvaney — who is technically on leave from his first administration job as budget director — spends considerably less time with Trump than his two previous chiefs of staff, Reince Priebus and John F. Kelly. And the president has sometimes kept him out of the loop when making contentious foreign policy decisions, advisers say. At a recent donor retreat in Chicago, Mulvaney told attendees that he does not seek to control the president’s tweeting, time or family, one attendee said. Priebus and Kelly had clashed with the president over his Twitter statements and the influence of his eldest daughter and her husband, who are senior advisers.
Instead, Mulvaney has focused much of his energy on creating a new White House power center revolving around the long-dormant Domestic Policy Council and encompassing broad swaths of the administration. One White House official described Mulvaney as “building an empire for the right wing.”
He has helped install more than a dozen ideologically aligned advisers in the West Wing since his December hiring. Cabinet members are pressed weekly on what regulations they can strip from the books and have been told their performance will be judged on how many they remove. Policy and spending decisions are now made by the White House and dictated to Cabinet agencies, instead of vice versa. When Mulvaney cannot be in the Oval Office for a policy meeting, one of his allies is usually there. ...
But Mulvaney also faces significant obstacles on Capitol Hill, where he made enemies on both sides of the aisle during his three terms as a bomb-throwing House conservative. Democrats openly disdain him as a saboteur, while many key Republicans distrust his willingness to compromise, particularly on fiscal policy. Some GOP senators freely signal they would rather deal with any other administration official than him.
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