WASHINGTON - Mick Mulvaney, who was tapped this week to replace Gen. John Kelly as the president's acting chief of staff, once called Donald Trump a "terrible human being."
While campaigning to retain his South Carolina House seat during the 2016 election, Mulvaney denounced Trump, who is now his direct boss. Still, Mulvaney said he was forced to support the then-Republican nominee because the alternative was Democrat Hillary Clinton.
"We have perhaps two of the most flawed human beings running for president in the history of the country," Mulvaney said during a forum with Democratic challenger Fran Person, according to the local newspaper, The State.
"Yes, I am supporting Donald Trump, but I’m doing so as enthusiastically as I can, given the fact that I think he’s a terrible human being. But the choice on the other side is just as bad," Mulvaney continued.
Video of his remarks was uncovered by The Daily Beast on Friday, just hours after Trump announced he had chosen Mulvaney as his acting chief of staff.
Mulvaney ended up winning the election to retain his seat in the state's 5th Congressional District but was pulled into the Trump administration as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
He was promoted on Friday and given the daunting but high-profile position of acting chief of staff, taking over the task of managing a president who doesn't like to be managed.
Mulvaney, 51, will take over the role from John Kelly, who is expected to leave by the end of the year. The president said in a tweet that Mulvaney will serve as acting chief of staff, though it's unclear how long he will remain in the role.
The White House said he would not resign from the Office of Management and Budget. His deputy, Russell Vought, is to handle operations for OMB, a move that will potentially delay a confirmation hearing for a new director.
"Mick has done an outstanding job while in the Administration," Trump said in a tweet on Friday, ending days of speculation about the position. "I look forward to working with him in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
Mulvaney, a lawyer and former South Carolina congressman, will have to accommodate a boss who likes to stage events on a moment's notice, often overrides aides' advice, and makes policy and staff announcements by tweet.
The selection process for a new chief of staff began Saturday after Trump announced that Kelly would be leaving. A day later, however, Trump's favorite for the job – Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence – turned down the presidential job and said he planned to leave the administration instead.
Days later, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another potential candidate for the role, also pulled out of the running, saying in a statement: "Now is not the right time for me or my family to undertake this serious assignment."
Trump will be the first president to have three chiefs of staff in less than two years, assuming Mulvaney starts before the Jan. 20 anniversary of his 2017 inauguration.
Contributing: David Jackson