Incoming White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday said President Donald Trump “now realizes” he can’t fire the head of the Federal Reserve, after reports that the president asked his advisers whether he had the ability to do so.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tweeted Saturday night that Trump claimed he never suggested firing Powell or believed he had “the right to do so.”
But asked Sunday during an interview with ABC’s “This Week” whether Trump believes he has the power to fire Powell, Mulvaney appeared to confirm reports that the president looked into whether he could.
“I think [Trump] put out a tweet last night specifically saying that he now realizes he does not have the ability to fire him,” Mulvaney told ABC’s “This Week.”
ABC’s Jon Karl clarified that Trump never directly said as much ― only Mnuchin on his behalf.
“Is that who tweeted? All right,” Mulvaney said. “I talked to ― I must have heard it ― I did speak with the treasury secretary last night about a bunch of things, including the lapse in appropriations and the shutdown, and he did mention that to me.”
Trump named Mulvaney as the acting White House chief of staff on Dec. 14, roughly a week after he announced John Kelly would leave the role by the end of the year. Mulvaney will assume the role in January and has been serving as director of the Office of Management and Budget since February 2017.
After news of the appointment, a video clip circulated of Mulvaney, at the time a congressman representing South Carolina, bashing Trump days before the 2016 presidential election.
“Do I like Donald Trump? No,” Mulvaney can be heard saying in the video. “Yes, I’m supporting Donald Trump. I’m doing so as enthusiastically as I can, given the fact that I think he’s a terrible human being.”
Mulvaney on Sunday downplayed his past criticism of Trump.
“He and I have joked about it,” Mulvaney said of the clip. “He knows that I’ve 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.”
Asked how long he believes he will serve as acting chief of staff, Mulvaney said he wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I think what we’ll do is take a couple of weeks, a couple of months and see if he likes the way I’m handling the job, if I like the job.”