Updated Dec 23, 2018 - Politics & Policy

Trump's next chief of staff does cleanup duty for his boss

President Trump's incoming acting chief of staff says Mexico won't "exactly" pay for the wall, clarified that Trump "now" knows he can't fire the Fed chair and predicted the partial government shutdown will last into 2019.

The big picture: Mick Mulvaney is attempting to clarify the Trump administration's messaging from the White House's hectic statements that led up to what is now partial government shutdown.

Five highlights:

1) The wall: Mulvaney admits on ABC's "This Week" that Mexico won't pay for the wall, a promise Trump made on the campaign trail. "Technically, you and I both know that [the process for paying for the wall] cannot work exactly like that. I can't spend any money at the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Homeland Security can't spend money from Mexico. We have to get it from the Treasury."

2) The Fed: Mulvaney spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last night and Trump "now realizes" that he "does not have the ability" to fire Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell.

3) The partial government shutdown will likely extend into 2019. Trump stands by funding $5 billion for the wall and “refuses to go along to get along," Mulvaney said on "Fox News Sunday."

4) On the resignation of Jim Mattis: "The president had known for quite some time now that Sec. Mattis and he did not share some of the same philosophies," Mulvaney said.

5) Past comments: Mulvaney said he and the president have joked about his comments from 2016, when he called Trump a "terrible human being." "The president knows that I've been fighting with him to fight for ordinary Americans. He likes having me around. I like working for him," Mulvaney said.


  • Mulvaney in 2015: “To say ‘build the darn fence’ and have that be the end of an immigration discussion is absurd and almost childish for someone inning for president to take that simplistic a view."
  • Mulvaney in 2016: “Yes, I’m supporting Donald Trump. I am doing so as enthusiastically as I can given the fact that I think he is a terrible human being. But the choice on the other side is just as bad.”

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