In a sudden and unexpected announcement late on Friday afternoon, Donald Trump ousted his White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and named one of his most loyal defenders in the House of Representatives, North Carolina Republican Mark Meadows, to the job, according to a New York Times report. Meadows becomes Trump's fourth chief of staff in just over three years, following Reince Priebus, John Kelly, and Mulvaney.
Trump had referred to Mulvaney as "acting" chief of staff, but because the position does not require senate confirmation, the "acting" title was essentially meaningless. Mulvaney served in the post for more than 14 months.
According to author and New Yorker magazine reporter Susan Glasser, Trump made the sudden move to "distract" from the spreading coronavirus outbreak.
"Trump has been president for 1141 days. Many of them have been crazy and chaotic," Glasser wrote on her Twitter account. "But firing his chief of staff late on a Friday night to distract from his disastrous management of a spreading pandemic virus is pretty up there."
The Trump administration response to the coronavirus outbreak has been described as "badly bungled" by a leading scientific journal. On Friday, the death toll from the virus reached 14, but the slow response has likely left hundreds or even thousands of coronavirus infections unreported.
According to research by The Atlantic magazine, fewer than 1,900 people nationwide had actually been tested for coronavirus as of Friday, as The Inquisitr reported.
During a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Friday, Trump claimed that "anybody that wants a test can get a test," as quoted by USA Today. Speaking to reporters at the CDC, he slammed Washington Governor Jay Inslee — whose state has seen 10 of the 14 coronavirus deaths — as "a snake," and claimed the CDC's coronavirus tests were "all perfect like the letter was perfect."
By "the letter" Trump likely referred to the partial transcript of his July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump appeared to pressure Zelensky for political favors in return for military aid. Trump's pressure campaign against Ukraine led to his impeachment.
Trump also announced on Friday that Mulvaney would be sent to Northern Ireland as a "special envoy" to that country. Mulvaney was a key player in the impeachment case against Trump, and was reportedly present at meetings in which the pressure campaign against Ukraine was discussed.
Washington Post columnist Philip Bump took to his Twitter account to say that it was not a "coincidence" that Mulvaney "who obviously knows various details about various things" was shipped out of the country on a diplomatic mission.