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Mark Meadows really isn’t Donald Trump’s chief of staff — yet

North Carolina congressman plans to resign from the House later this month

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., right, is still officially a member of Congress.
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., right, is still officially a member of Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Mark Meadows is not yet President Donald Trump’s chief of staff. Really. He’s not.

The North Carolina Republican sure looked like the White House chief of staff as he made the rounds with top Trump administration officials Tuesday.

But Meadows insists that is not the case, at least not yet.

“Well, I’m still a member of Congress,” Meadows said when asked how he was reconciling serving as a lawmaker despite already being announced by the president as his new chief of staff.

Meadows certainly can attend high-level meetings on Capitol Hill hammering out final details of an economic stimulus package to respond to the coronavirus pandemic; and it can be an open secret that he is advocating for Trump in those meetings.

But, he cannot technically be on the White House payroll until he resigns from the House of Representatives.

Article One, Section Six of the Constitution specifically bars people holding other civil offices of the United States from serving simultaneously in Congress.

“No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time: and no person holding any office under the United States, shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office,” the Constitution reads.

In the case of Meadows, there’s no apparent technical violation. He also has not cast a roll call vote in the House since March 5. That is the day before Trump announced his intent to make Meadows chief of staff.

“Mick Mulvaney is still the acting chief, officially,” Meadows said Tuesday. Mulvaney, who is still officially listed as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, has been announced as the president’s choice to be the special envoy for Northern Ireland.

“I’ll end up resigning as a member of Congress, and that happens toward the end of the month,” Meadows said.

Once Meadows does formally submit his letter of resignation, it will be up to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to decide what to do about calling a special election. It is entirely possible the seat will be vacant until November.

But for now, Meadows says, “I’m a member of Congress.”

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