President Trump on Friday named White House budget director Mick Mulvaney as his new acting chief of staff, saying the former South Carolina Republican congressman will replace John Kelly as his top aide.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “Mick has done an outstanding job while in the Administration. I look forward to working with him in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
The president said Kelly, who recently announced plans to leave the White House, will stay through 2018.
“John will be staying until the end of the year,” Trump tweeted. “He is a GREAT PATRIOT and I want to personally thank him for his service!”
The president did not say why Mulvaney will serve in an “acting” capacity.
Mulvaney, who served in Congress before joining the Trump administration, also served as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau while simultaneously running the White House budget office.
In a tweet, Mulvaney said, "This is a tremendous honor. I look forward to working with the President and the entire team. It’s going to be a great 2019!"
A senior administration official cited Mulvaney's experience as a "former member of Congress" and said Trump picked him because he and the president “get along.”
"He knows Congress. He knows Capitol Hill," the official said of Mulvaney.
The official said Russ Vought, Mulvaney’s current deputy at OMB, will take over for Mulvaney in the budget office while Mulvaney serves in the chief of staff office. The official said there is “no time table” for how long Mulvaney will serve in an “acting” capacity.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and a White House adviser, praised Mulvaney, while thanking Kelly for his service.
“Congratulations Director Mulvaney!!” Ivanka Trump tweeted. “You will undoubtedly continue to inspire and impress in this new role just as you have at OMB. Thank you General Kelly for almost 2 years of leadership in this Administration and for a lifetime of service to our great nation!”
Earlier Friday, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie withdrew from consideration to serve as chief of staff.
“It’s an honor to have the president consider me as he looks to choose a new White House chief of staff,” Christie said in a statement. “However, I’ve told the president that now is not the right time for me or my family to undertake this serious assignment. As a result, I have asked him to no longer keep me in any of his considerations for this post.”
Before announcing Mulvaney, Trump seemed to struggle to get several contenders to commit to the job: Vice President Pence's chief of staff, Nick Ayers, had been originally thought to be a top choice for the president, but he withdrew from consideration.
North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican ally of Trump on Capitol Hill, had expressed interest in the job, but the White House said the president wanted him to remain in Congress.
But in a tweet Friday night, Trump said, "For the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M will do a GREAT job!"
In an interview with Fox News' Harris Faulkner on "Outnumbered Overtime" on Thursday, the president discussed his search for Kelly's replacement and said he wants “somebody that's strong but I want somebody that thinks like I do.”
Fox News’ Kristin Brown and Matt Leach contributed to this report.