As Trump Sows Discord, Chief of Staff Mulvaney Reportedly Focused on ‘Building Empire for the Right Wing’

“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.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-15-2019

Mick Mulvaney press conference about President Donald Trump’s budget plan. Screenshot: YouTube

While President Donald Trump dominates national media with racist tweets and lies, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is quietly “building an empire for the right wing” and pushing Cabinet members to impose a radical and rapid deregulation agenda across the federal government, according to a new Washington Post report.

A former Republican congressman who co-founded the Freedom Caucus in 2015, Mulvaney has worn many hats in Trump’s administration. He served as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for more than a year and is currently on leave as director of the Office of Management and Budget for the chief of staff role, a supposedly temporary appointment that Trump announced in December.

Citing interviews with dozens of sources within the White House and on Capitol Hill, the Post detailed “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.” Mulvaney and the White House declined to participate in the piece.

Mulvaney spends less time with Trump than his predecessors—Reince Priebus and John F. Kelly—did, and doesn’t always know what’s going on with Trump’s foreign policy, advisers told the newspaper. “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.”

Reportedly pushing Cabinet members and agencies to act quickly on deregulation—in case the Democrats take control of the White House and Senate in 2020—Mulvaney appears to care “about the domestic agencies much more than the prior chiefs of staff did,” one source said.

As the Post reported late Sunday:

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.

[…]

Mulvaney spends more time in his office than his predecessors, feeling no need to sit in on all of Trump’s meetings. He regularly huddles with Joe Grogan, a hard-liner who now leads the Domestic Policy Council, and Russell T. Vought, a conservative ally who runs the Office of Management and Budget in Mulvaney’s absence.

The newspaper noted that while “Mulvaney’s biggest successes so far have come in deregulation efforts,” the chief of staff “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.”

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