I’m not sure if it means much, though obviously the upcoming election probably has something to do with this.
Practicing Kremlinology on the Trump administration is well outside of my areas of competence:
President Trump on Friday pushed out Mick Mulvaney, his acting White House chief of staff, and replaced him with Representative Mark Meadows, a stalwart conservative ally, shaking up his team in the middle of one of the biggest crises of his presidency.
Mr. Trump announced the change on Twitter after arriving in Florida for a weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate, choosing to make one of the most significant switches he can make in his White House on a Friday night when most of the country had tuned out news for the weekend. As a consolation prize, the president named Mr. Mulvaney a special envoy for Northern Ireland.
In taking over the White House, Mr. Meadows, 60, a retiring Republican from North Carolina, becomes Mr. Trump’s fourth chief of staff in 38 months, the most that any president has had in such a short time. His arrival almost surely signals more changes to follow, as most of Mr. Mulvaney’s deputies and others on his team are expected to leave, too, possibly including Emma Doyle, his top lieutenant, and Joe Grogan, the domestic policy adviser.
Mr. Mulvaney, 52, a former Republican congressman from South Carolina, served as chief of staff for more than 14 months in an “acting” capacity without ever formally being given the title. Mr. Mulvaney brushed off the snub by telling people that everyone in Mr. Trump’s White House was effectively in the job on an acting basis, but the seeming lack of faith or respect invariably made it harder for him to impose authority.
Witnesses placed Mr. Mulvaney at the heart of the events that led to Mr. Trump’s impeachment for pressuring Ukraine to incriminate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats. Mr. Mulvaney carried out Mr. Trump’s order to suspend $391 million in aid to Ukraine, an action declared illegal by the Government Accountability Office. Some advisers later told the president that Mr. Mulvaney had helped ensnare him in impeachment, even though he was following Mr. Trump’s wishes.
At a news briefing in October, Mr. Mulvaney contradicted the president’s denial that he had imposed a quid pro quo on the assistance to benefit his own political fortunes. Mr. Mulvaney told reporters that the White House had withheld aid to Ukraine in part to force Kyiv to commit to investigating a widely debunked theory that Ukraine intervened in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of the Democrats, a story that American intelligence agencies have called Russian disinformation.
“Absolutely. No question about that,” Mr. Mulvaney said. He added, “That’s why we held up the money. ”