Republican Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina has resigned from Congress and officially takes over as White House chief of staff on March 31. Former leader of the GOP’s House Freedom Caucus, Meadows has been a staunch and outspoken ally of President Donald Trump through the turbulent times of the Russian collusion hoax and the impeachment circus. Meadows will replace Mick Mulvaney, who has been acting chief of staff since January 2019.
Meadows served four terms in the House and two terms as head of the Freedom Caucus. One could argue that he represents a “conservatarian” (libertarian-conservative) faction of the Republican Party that has never been entirely welcomed by the establishment. Trump’s populist style, though, was more in tune with those Republicans who – like Meadows, Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH), and a few others – prefer to think of themselves as doing the people’s work and defending the Constitution. They have often been at odds with the establishment old guard that has, on so many occasions, turned its back on the nation’s conservatives.
Mulvaney, who is also the director of the Office of Management and Budget, was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus. Now Mulvaney is set to represent the United States as Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.
Draining the White House Swamp
The story behind Meadows’ new position in the White House is the struggle to remove from the president’s orbit those who appear to have spent the last three years undermining the Trump agenda. In the early days and months of Trump’s presidency, the White House leaked like a sieve. It seemed that everything said in confidence behind closed doors at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – along with much that allegedly was said but never corroborated – found its way into the newspapers within a day or two.
The phony uproar over Trump’s telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky painted this ongoing problem in stark relief. A complaint was filed by a so-called whistleblower who heard an account of the conversation from someone who was on the call. That someone was likely a member of the president’s National Security Council (NSC). Though it has been neither admitted nor confirmed, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was the likely culprit. After testifying for the Democrats’ impeachment investigation, Vindman was removed from the NSC.
Meadows always has been a forceful advocate for the removal of those within the administration who work against the president. Of Vindman’s ouster, Meadows said: “This is not about getting even, this is about having a team around you that’s willing to support your agenda.” Then a member of the House Oversight Committee, Meadows continued: “Listen, this is the only president who can run on his accomplishments in the first three years and still run against his own administration because part of his administration is trying to defeat the Trump agenda.”
It is this conviction that makes Meadows the right man for the job, though White House chief of staff is no easy role these days. Meadows will be the fourth person to fill this position for President Trump. In the midst of the fight to contain the Coronavirus outbreak, the congressman is stepping into a particularly challenging role.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.
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