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Home / US / Popcorn and Happy Hour: How Trump's Top Adjutant Wants to Improve the White House's Morale

Popcorn and Happy Hour: How Trump's Top Adjutant Wants to Improve the White House's Morale

  Mick Mulvaney "title =" Mick Mulvaney

Reigning Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney installed a popcorn machine in his office that filled pockets for employees in the evening. | Win McNamee / Getty Images

White House

Reigning Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney wants to change the mood in a beleaguered West Wing.

The gatherings, about half an hour dozens of them have become an increasingly regular part of White House life this spring, under Chief Marshal Mick Mulvaney. They are usually held on Friday evenings or on days when the President is out of town, bringing snacks out of the chaos of the White House. One party was a deportation for former white house communications director Bill Shine.

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The Trump White House was compared to a snake pit and had more staff turnover than ever before. Trump's youngest – and for now – Deputy Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is trying to change that.

The first chief of staff of President Donald Trump, Reince Priebus, has earned the reputation of being constantly near the governor's president while various factions thrive on the White House. His successor, General John Kelly, roared with his four-star general, military discipline, and lists of who could and could not enter the Oval Office, in the West Wing. At the end of Kelly's term, White House staff often stopped, as he said, "the worst damn job I've ever had was bossing."

Such feelings have a kind of trickle. But Mulvaney tries to use himself as a moralizing leader. He quickly became known for withdrawing from Kelly's habit of controlling Trump, and he is much more concerned with the president and his brute impulses. laissez faire Now, the sympathetic South Carolinian has an almost equally ambitious project: to turn one of the most turbulent white houses in history into a more enjoyable place to work.

"You will never have problems to deal with. This cadence is always in the White House, "said a high-ranking administrative official. "The challenge is: are you happy to storm the mountain every day?"

Whether the morale of Trump's besieged White House can really be improved is another matter. Occasional happy hour does not change the reality of a short-lived president in the Oval Office who often makes political decisions in the air. Trump has not lost his penchant for snapping up aides – sometimes including Mulvaney, as Trump did during the government's crackdown.

But the happy hours are a start. Mulvaney has also invited staff, cabinet members, and congressmen to weekend trips to Camp David, the presidential building in Maryland, which a disinterested Trump has generally spurned.

Then there's the popcorn machine. A few weeks ago, Mulvaney installed one in his spacious West Wing suite. In the evening, the machine chugs, so that the staff can fill up small bags. In a White House where employees work incredibly long hours in tight offices, an administrative officer excitedly called the innovation "a great success."

The benefits help, but also the approach of Mulvaney and his deputies in management. A handful of employees feel that their team is listening. "Not that I ever had anything against him, but I really think he does a good job. "He's fair," said another government official.

In line with what many Washington reporters agree with, there were far fewer media stories about White House staff clashes or comments from senior executives meeting leaked by disgruntled helpers.

Granted, it's not a stretch. The White House of Trump has recorded an extraordinary turnover. 68 percent of the top jobs were filled by more than one person, according to a study by the Brookings Institution. This also applies to the chief of staff. No president had three chiefs of staff in his first 24 months since President Harry Truman first created it, said Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a non-executive senior fellow in Brookings.

But Mulvaney hopes to lower this turnover rate by making his warriors a happier band. Another senior administration official called it the "Happy Hour" approach, where White House staff get to know each other and build collegial relationships during downtime. So when a real crisis occurs or world affairs break in, people feel less isolated in a demanding job

Mulvaney has acknowledged on television that it is not his job to control the president, whom he calls the "boss," so he is with the people around Trump.

Mulvaney has paid particular attention to cultivation of relationships with Trump's children, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. With Kushner, the president's son-in-law, Mulvaney sought to reconcile the realities of the properties, a senior government official said: Before starting a political career leading him to Congress, Mulvaney worked for his father's real estate company in South Carolina.

Mulvaney watchers know his morale-boosting tricks are not new. The popcorn machine dates back to his time as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney also spent happy hours on his budget on the balcony of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, overlooking the North Lawn of the White House. He was also known to drink with staff in downtown bars such as the Post Pub, where he would order whiskey or red wine.

"It was very clear that career employees were more willing to implement policies that they might not personally agree with because Mick is accessible, honest and straightforward," said Jonathan Slemrod of Harbinger Strategies, previously Associate Director of Legislature was active matters at OMB under Mulvaney.

Even as a Republican legislator on Capitol Hill, Mulvaney's office had a reputation as a social office. It was often a happy hour for the South Carolina delegation, or Mulvaney's then Chief of Staff Al Simpson would bring all the staff for steaks and a barbecue to his house.

"He is one of the gang. It is very accessible and easy to understand, "said Simpson, who has known Mulvaney for years. "When we did these things, we talked very little about the work and were usually just having fun."

Mulvaney is a political actor, despite these joint practices and outward gestures of warmth, according to Trump White House advisers. "Mulvaney is in a sense very appealing, but he does not suffer from fools," says a former government official. "He is politically very circumcised, even if he does it with a smile."

As Trump's supreme assistant, he quickly brought nine of his own to the White House. Loyalists and former employees of the Office of Management and Budget are working today in the Chiefs of Staff, the Communications and Legislature Department, on national security issues, and as Chief of the Domestic Policy Council, to provide Mulvaney with entry and influence into many corners of the West Wing.

The imperialist aspect of his work fits the profile of other former chiefs of staff. It is more unusual for a chief to seek morality, says Charles Walcott, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Virginia Tech, who has interviewed several chiefs and deputy chiefs of staff of the White House Transition Project. [19659008] "Low employee morale is often a result of the boss's harsh approach," said Walcott. "In this administration, however, low morale seems linked to the general atmosphere of chaos and freestyle backbiting."

"That means," he added, "I doubt that free snacks or even table tennis tables would really work to address the problem."

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