Trump names Mick Mulvaney acting chief of staff

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WASHINGTON (NBC News) - Mick Mulvaney will serve as acting White House chief of staff, President Donald Trump said Friday.

Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget and a former Republican congressman from South Carolina, will take over for Chief of Staff John Kelly, who is due to leave at the end of the year.

Trump announced the decision on Friday, hours after Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor, joined Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Nick Ayers, the top aide to Vice President Mike Pence, in taking himself out of the running.

"I have told the president that now is not the right time for me or my family to undertake this serious assignment," Christie said in a statements. "As a result, I have asked him to no longer keep me in any of his considerations for this post."

On Thursday night, Christie, who campaigned for Trump in 2016 and was later pushed out as chief of his presidential transition team, had spent an hour discussing the job with the president at the White House residence, according to two sources familiar with the chief-of-staff-selection process.

The unusual spectacle of the president so publicly courting and being rebuffed by candidates for what is typically one of the most sought-after jobs in government comes at a time when Trump is battling special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, separate allegations that he conspired to break campaign finance laws and his party's loss of power in the House.

So, Mulvaney, who has been seen as a steady hand within the administration, will be taking on a heavy caseload of political, legal and policy problems.