How Is Mark Meadows Both A Congressman And Employed In The Executive Branch? What Even Is Constitution?

For “originalists,” those Tea Party guys sure know how to get jiggy when they’re actively interpreting the Constitution. Article 1, Section 6 would seem to unequivocally bar a sitting congressional representative from simultaneously serving in the executive branch.

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.

And yet, North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows appears to be doing just that. Escándalo!

Meadows was named White House Chief of Staff on March 6, when Trump rewarded Mick Mulvaney for his loyal service during the impeachment trial by unceremoniously shoving him in the direction of Northern Ireland.

Meadows certainly appears to be serving as COS, accompanying Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on marathon negotiations with Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer this week to hammer out the coronavirus stimulus package. White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow stood next to Trump at Tuesday’s press briefing and referred to “Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows,” and Meadows hasn’t voted on any legislation since March 5.

Chief of Staff isn’t a position which requires senate confirmation, so … sounds like Meadows is COS, right?

Not so fast! 

“Mick Mulvaney is still the acting chief, officially,” Meadows told Roll Call Tuesday, adding later, “I’ll end up resigning as a member of Congress, and that happens toward the end of the month.” Luckily, Meadows has served for more than five years, so he can start collecting a full congressional pension at 62.

The distinction (without a difference) appears to be that Meadows isn’t yet officially on the White House payroll. In this, he continues in the proud tradition of his predecessor, who remained the Acting COS for over a year, retaining his title as head of the Office of Management and Budget “because it’s a $20,000 pay cut.” In fact, he still holds that job (presumably depriving his deputy of the pay bump), in addition to acting as White House Chief of Staff and also Special Envoy Designate to Northern Ireland awaiting confirmation.

So, in summary, Mulvaney has three jobs, none of which he appears to be performing. Meadows has two jobs, in contravention of the Constitution. And the president carried out his solemn responsibilities today by posting twelve tweets before lunch time.

Constitutional originalism, FTW!

Mark Meadows really isn’t Donald Trump’s chief of staff — yet [Roll Call]
As the crisis continues, who’s the White House chief of staff? [NBC]

Elizabeth Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.

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