Politics: Inside Trump’s hunt to fill one of the worst jobs in Washington - PressFrom - US
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PoliticsInside Trump’s hunt to fill one of the worst jobs in Washington

00:00  25 may  2019
00:00  25 may  2019 Source:   politico.com

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Inside Trump’s hunt to fill one of the worst jobs in Washington© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images President Donald Trump's eventual pick for legislative affairs director will take on the hefty job of maintaining relationships with lawmakers even as the president alienates them.

White House officials including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney are pushing their favored candidates to become Donald Trump’s new point person on Capitol Hill — an unenviable job that has become even more challenging as the president’s relationship with Congress hits a new low.

The long-expected departure of Trump’s current legislative affairs director, Shahira Knight, immediately set off behind-the-scenes jockeying over her replacement. Trump, in turn, has been asking advisers who they think would be a good fit, but he hasn’t yet become deeply engaged in the search, according to two White House officials.

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The truth is, Trump would rather handle all messaging himself. Mike Dubke, who accepted the role of White House communications director on Feb. He issued a gracious statement, saying that “it has been my great honor to serve President Trump and this administration,” but his was one of the worst

Inside the Guardian. James Baker famously called it “ the worst fucking job in government”. Panetta, a former defence secretary for whom Kelly was a military aide, will not be surprised if Trump struggles to fill the vacancy. He added: “It was always the hardest job in Washington before the Trump era.

The president is expected to interview three or four candidates as soon as next week, when he returns from Japan, one White House official said. Aides added that it’s difficult to predict who Trump might choose because he does not have a close relationship with any of the candidates who have been recommended so far. One White House official said he’ll likely pick the person he clicks with most during the interview process.

Candidates who have been recommended to Trump include: Eric Ueland, deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and a former top Senate aide; Jonathan Slemrod, a former Office of Management and Budget official who now works downtown at Harbinger Strategies; Monica Popp, the former chief of staff to Texas Sen. John Cornyn; Ben Howard, the current deputy legislative affairs director and a former House staffer; and Tim Pataki, the current head of the White House Office of Public Liaison.

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The potential candidates either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

The eventual pick will take on the hefty job of maintaining relationships with lawmakers even as Trump alienates them. Trump vowed this week not to work with Democrats until they end the investigations encircling him, leaving the White House and Congress in a stalemate with few legislative prospects.

“It’s not an easy job,” a White House official said.

Further complicating the position is the fact that Trump often just speaks directly to Republican lawmakers, which means his own White House aides do not always know the details of the conversations he has in his off-hours. And much of the policy agenda in the coming months — trade and immigration — divide Republicans. Whoever takes the job often must convey news to the Hill that lawmakers do not always want to hear.

Filling Knight’s job with a legislative affairs guru has long been on the mind of Mulvaney, people close to him said, and Mulvaney will play a key role in hand-picking Knight’s successor. He has told allies he wants an aggressive person for the job. Mulvaney fashions himself as a shadow liaison to the Hill, thanks to his years spent in Congress.

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Slemrod would bring to the job a close relationship with Mulvaney, for whom he worked at the budget agency for roughly two years. He has strong ties to the Senate and worked for Cornyn and former Sen. Jon Kyl on appropriations, budget, tax, and trade, issues that now dominate the congressional schedule. He now works downtown at Harbinger Strategies, but two senior administration aides downplayed him as the eventual pick despite his close Mulvaney ties.

Ueland brings even deeper expertise in both domestic policy and Senate machinations, having worked for the Senate Budget Committee and as chief of staff to former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. He served as a top official on the Trump transition team. He was also nominated for a senior position at the State Department in 2017, but the nomination was withdrawn a year later.

As Cornyn’s chief of staff, Popp worked as liaison to the White House. She’s currently a partner at the lobbying firm Marshall and Popp, and was previously a staffer on the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

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Howard has worked under Knight for the past five months. He did an earlier stint on Trump’s legislative affairs team at the beginning of the administration when he worked to help pass tax reform, but then left to work for Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). He also previously worked for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Before taking over the Office of Public Liaison, Pataki too worked in the legislative affairs office.

“The Shahira sweepstakes has been going on for a while,” said one administration official, who noted that rumors of Knight’s departure have been pervasive since the winter, giving White House officials plenty of time to contemplate her replacement.

Already Mulvaney has two former aides inside the White House legislative affairs shop: AJ Sugarman, a former legislative analyst at the Office of Management and Budget, and Jeff Freeland, another budget agency alum.

Knight is expected to depart the White House in early June for a job in the private sector in Washington D.C. In the meantime, her predecessor Marc Short, now serving as chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, spent part of this week as the de facto public face of the legislative affairs team and did television appearances on everything from the disaster aid package to Trump’s reaction to congressional investigations.

Trump’s legislative options are slim, but White House aides believe they can still make progress on a series of more narrow issues, including lowering drug prices and winning congressional approval for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal. Aides privately acknowledged that the chances of passing a massive infrastructure bill are slim, especially after the president clashed with top Democrats over the matter this week.

The White House is not planning to formally replace another senior official who announced his departure this week: Johnny DeStefano. DeStefano oversaw a number of key White House offices, including the Presidential Personnel, Public Liaison and Political Affairs offices. Instead of hiring somebody to fill DeStefano’s role, the heads of those individual offices will likely now report directly to the chief of staff, a White House official said.

Trump says Boris Johnson would be 'very good' next PM for Britain.
Trump says Boris Johnson would be 'very good' next PM for Britain

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