Donald Trump’s new chief of staff has said he has talked to the US president about the time he branded him a “terrible human being”.
Mr Mulvaney referred to the president as a “terrible human being” during a debate against his Democratic opponent in the 2016 South Carolina congressional elections. The incident was one week before Mr Trump won the White House.
A video from the event, which surfaced around a week ago, shows Mr Mulvaney acknowledging his support for Mr Trump — who won the district against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by more than 20 per cent — while adding that he was only doing so because of his disdain for the Democratic candidate.
“Yes I am supporting Donald Trump, I’m doing it as enthusiastically as I can despite the fact that I think he’s a terrible human being,” he said.
During an appearance on US television network ABC, Mr Mulvaney has now said he and the president have discussed the saga.
“We joked about it last night ... what’s wrong with Washington DC?” he said.
“People spend a lot more time looking at what people say instead of what they do. I think my actions for the last two years – in fact I know they have because I asked the president about this – he knows that I have been fighting with him to fight for ordinary Americans for the last two years. He likes having me around and I like working for him”.
The new role is Mr Mulvaney’s third job in Mr Trump’s government. The Republican official, a former lawyer and restaurant chain owner, is currently head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and for a time simultaneously led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
He pushed conservative policies including benefit and tax cuts as head of the OMB.
“I don’t think anyone in this administration is more of a right-wing conservative than I am,” he told Politico last year.
His first words upon meeting Mr Trump’s senior economic adviser, Gary Cohn, were reportedly: “Hi, I’m a right-wing nutjob.”
He entered politics in 2006, when he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, and later became a state senator. In 2010 he was elected to the US House as Representative for the South Carolina’s 5th district, a seat he held until his appointment as OMB director in January 2017.
In congress, he founded the deeply conservative House Freedom Caucaus voting bloc, which recently called on Mr Trump’s administration to allocate $5 billion ($4 billion) in funding to build a wall to prevent migrants crossing the southern US border.
Mr Mulvaney opposed the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, as well as gun control and government funding for abortion services.
Mr Trump announced the White House shakeup on Twitter – saying Mr Kelly and Mr Mulvaney have served his administration with “distinction” and “outstanding” work respectively.
“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,” the president tweeted. “Mick has done an outstanding job while in the Administration.”
He added: “I look forward to working with him in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! John will be staying until the end of the year. He is a GREAT PATRIOT and I want to personally thank him for his service!”
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