Politics

Mick Mulvaney aims to install ally as head of legislative affairs which could give him more control of agenda

Key Points
  • Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and his advisors are looking to install a top ally to become the head of the administration's legislative affairs office.
  • "I know its going to be a Mick person," a source who was in the White House in recent days told CNBC. "Everyone over there keeps saying 'its going to be another Mick person,'" this person added.
  • One of the people being pushed to succeed Knight is a former OMB advisor who has since become a lobbyist at Harbinger Strategies.
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), listens during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, and workers in the Oval Office of the White House during a 'Cutting the Red Tape, Unleashing Economic Freedom' event in Washington, D.C, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. 
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Donald Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and his closest advisors are looking to install an ally atop the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, CNBC has learned.

Mulvaney has signaled he'd like to see someone who's worked with him at the Office of Management and Budget to succeed the departing Shahira Knight, according to people familiar with the matter. Mulvaney has continued to be the director of OMB while managing the staff at the White House.

For Mulvaney, having someone he trusts as the new head of the legislative team could allow him to be directly involved with negotiating and passing critical pieces of legislation throughout the rest of the president's time in office.

Trump announced Tuesday that Knight would be stepping down from her post and heading to the private sector after being the office's director since the start of the administration. Knight was a key player in helping pass the Republican tax reform plan while a member of the National Economic Council.

One of the people being pushed to Trump and his aides to step in for Knight by Mulvaney's confidants is Jonathan Slemrod, a former associate director for legislative affairs at OMB under Mulvaney, people close to the White House said on condition anonymity.

"I know its going to be a Mick person," a source who was in the White House in recent days told CNBC. "Everyone over there keeps saying 'its going to be another Mick person,'" this person added.

Politico reported in January that over the course of his first month as acting chief of staff, Mulvaney had brought on at least half a dozen OMB aides to join him at the White House and was looking to add more to his ranks.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on the record when asked about Mulvaney's influence and whether Slemrod is under consideration. A spokesman for OMB referred questions about Mulvaney and Slemrod to the White House. Slemrod did not return repeated requests for comment.

Slemrod is currently a lobbyist out of Harbinger Strategies in Washington, D.C., with clients ranging from Blackstone, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Facebook and Home Depot, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Harbinger's website shows that while he was at OMB, he "worked with members of Congress and staff, Administration officials, White House components including the Office of Legislative Affairs," and goes on to say he had a role in getting enough votes to secure approval of the tax reform bill that passed through Congress in 2017.

The website also has a direct quote from Mulvaney, showering praise on Slemrod's previous efforts at OMB.

"Jonny's contributions to both the Office of Management and Budget and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection can't be overstated," he said. "A close, trusted advisor, his knowledge of both policy and procedure helped President Trump achieve some of his biggest legislative victories."

Slemrod was also previously a legislative assistant to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.