White House staff rally around Mulvaney amid rising frustration
Posted October 21, 2019 1:25 p.m. EDT
CNN — Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney earned a show of support from his colleagues on Monday after facing days of withering criticism over his fraught attempts to walk back last week's stunning admission to a quid pro quo involving security aid to Ukraine.
During a senior staff meeting early Monday, Mulvaney brought up the press coverage he has faced and acknowledged that it was a "tough week," two senior White House officials said. Senior staffers in the meeting responded with a round of applause, which the officials characterized as a show of support for the embattled chief of staff.
The staff meeting came amid reports that President Donald Trump and some of his allies are increasingly frustrated with Mulvaney, putting the acting chief of staff in a precarious position a little over a month after unrelated frustrations with Mulvaney had already sent top White House aides scouring for potential Mulvaney replacements.
Mulvaney was present for a lunchtime Cabinet meeting, where the President ignored shouted questions about Mulvaney's future in the administration.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement to CNN over the weekend that Mulvaney "is still the acting chief of staff and has the President's confidence."
On Sunday, Mulvaney once again attempted to clean up his admission of an apparent quid pro quo, insisting that he did no such thing even while acknowledging once again that Trump was interested in Ukraine investigating the Democratic National Committee and its handling of a server that was hacked during the 2016 presidential election.
His appearance on the program did little to assuage concerns from some of Trump's allies. And Mulvaney continued to make eyebrow raising comments, including as he attempted to explain Trump's initial decision to host the G7 next year at his Doral property by pointing out that "at the end of the day...(Trump) still considers himself to be in the hospitality business."
Trump reversed his plans to hold the gathering of world leaders at his property, which Mulvaney defended, amid widespread criticism from Republicans that Trump was attempting to profit off the presidency.
Mulvaney also belied some frustration of his own with the President, saying: "It's not lost on me that if we made the decision on Thursday, we wouldn't have had the press conference on Thursday regarding everything else. But that's fine."