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Trump appoints Meadows chief of staff

U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows shows an apple during a visit to the Stepp family orchard in Edneyville last year. [LIGHTNING FILE PHOTO] U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows shows an apple during a visit to the Stepp family orchard in Edneyville last year. [LIGHTNING FILE PHOTO]

Mark Meadows, the sandwich shop owner turned real estate developer turned nationally prominent conservative congressman, has one more title in an unlikely political ascendance: White House chief of staff.

In a move that had been projected in some quarters when Meadows made a surprise announcement to retire from his seat rather than seek re-election, Trump ousted Mick Mulvaney and appointed Meadows acting chief of staff.

"I am pleased to announce that Congressman Mark Meadows will become White House Chief of Staff," the president said on Twitter. "I have long known and worked with Mark, and the relationship is a very good one. ..."

Mulvaney, a former congressman from South Carolina, will become the United States special envoy for Northern Ireland, the White House announced.

In a statement released a few hours later, Meadows thanked Western North Carolina voters for sending him to Congress in 2012, calling his service on their behalf "the honor of my life."


"It's an honor to be selected by President Trump to serve alongside him and his team," he said. "This President and his administration have a long list of incredible victories they've delivered to the country during this first term, with the best yet to come—and I look forward to helping build on that success and staying in the fight for the forgotten men and women of America.

"In particular, I want to recognize my friend Mick Mulvaney. Mick is smart, principled, and as tough a fighter you'll find in Washington, D.C. He did a great job leading the President's team through a tremendous period of accomplishment over the last year plus.

"Lastly, I want to thank the people of western North Carolina. Serving you in Congress has been the honor of my life. It may be in a different role, but I'll continue working every day to deliver results for you—and main street Americans all over the country—in the months and years to come."

Among Trump's strongest supporters, the selection of Meadows was hailed as "the perfect choice" to lead the staff in the seven-month campaign from now until the Nov. 3 election.

“Congressman Meadows has been one of the most effective advocates for the MAGA movement for years now,” Donald Trump, Jr., President Trump’s eldest son, told Breitbart News. “There are some major battles ahead and I can’t think of anyone more equipped to fight alongside the President for the future of our country.”

A co-founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus, Meadows was one of Trump's earliest and most steadfast supporters in Congress. His move to the White House was not universally praised.

“Mark Meadows has only represented one constituent since Donald Trump took office, so for him this is a change in title only, not a change in how he spends his time,’’ said Moe Davis, who won the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 11th District in Tuesday’s primary. “The victims here are the people who live in the gerrymandered 11th Congressional District who now have taxation without representation … not that Meadows was doing anything to represent them.”

Henderson County Republican Party Chair Merry Guy said it's possible Meadows could serve as acting chief of staff without resigning from Congress.

"If he were to step down, it is the responsibility of the governor to determine whether or not hold a special election," she said. "At this date it would be highly unusual for the governor to call a special election in my opinion because we’re in the middle of a heated primary."

Under the U.S. Constitution, a vacancy in the House can be filled only by special election, not appointment. The law requires the full election cycle steps, including a filing period, primary, a runoff potentially and general election, a process that typically takes up to six months. Assuming no special election and Meadows's departure, the NC-11 seat would be vacant until the winner of the Nov. 3 election is sworn in.