President Trump with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, January 2020.

Under fire for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, US President Donald Trump on Friday announced he would replace his current chief of staff Mick Mulvaney with Mark Meadows, a Republican congressman who is one of the president’s staunchest defenders.

“I have long known and worked with Mark, and the relationship is a very good one.

“I want to thank Acting Chief Mick Mulvaney for having served the Administration so well,” Trump said in a series of Friday night tweets.

Mulvaney, also a former Republican congressman, served as the chief of staff for 14 months, in a tenure defined by his entanglement in Trump’s impeachment.

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In the role, Mulvaney was a stalwart defender of the president, but his political gaffes, including some statements regarding Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, put the president in hot water.

Democrats unsuccessfully sought to compel Mulvaney to testify about his actions related to the withholding of aid to Ukraine, which was at the centre of the impeachment trial.

Mulvaney had also been leading the inter-agency response to the outbreaks of coronavirus until Trump designated Vice President Mike Pence to lead the whole-of-government effort more than a week ago.

There were also reports that Mulvaney had been marginalised inside the White House for months, taking on an increasingly narrow role.

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And Trump was said to have been eyeing the change for months but wanted to wait until after impeachment.

Mulvaney’s allies, however, had long brushed off rumblings off his imminent departure and had said as recently as last month that he planned to stay at least through the election in November.

Mark Meadows.

Meadows will now be the president’s fourth chief of staff.

Trump said Mulvaney will now serve as the special envoy for Northern Ireland.

(dpa/NAN)