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Conservatives cast their support behind an embattled Mick Mulvaney

Impeachment testimony moves forward

More than 70 conservative leaders signed onto a letter Thursday expressing their support for Mick Mulvaney, the president's embattled acting chief of staff whose job has been in question since he made remarks last week that seemed to complicate the White House's defense against the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. 

The signatories, who include Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Leadership Institute President Morton C. Blackwell and Club For Growth President David McIntosh, listed reasons they believe the president should make Mulvaney the permanent White House chief of staff.

"Conservatives are proud to support the role Mick Mulvaney continues to play in the Trump administration," the letter reads. "Recent news reports demonstrate that the D.C. Swamp is attacking him — and we believe it is because he has been the most successful Chief of Staff in this administration to advance the Trump pro-America agenda. ... [Mulvaney] is a proven leader, and an outspoken advocate of conservative principles and policies."

CBS News obtained an early version of the letter, which was later posted at the Conservative Action Project.

Mulvaney's fate has been in question since he told reporters on camera that U.S. aid to Ukraine was tied to whether the foreign country investigated circumstances surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election — a statement that supported allegations of quid pro quo. As CBS News has reported, Mulvaney is facing a storm of criticism from current and former White House officials who question not only his briefing room performance but his overall impeachment strategy. 

Although Mulvaney -- a staunch advocate of limited government while in Congress -- has vocally emphasized the importance of restrained fiscal and regulatory policies that the signatories support, he has also defended Mr. Trump as deficits and the debt continue to rise. 

Speaking to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation this summer, Mulvaney said the administration is "not going to cut our way to balance" and emphasized the need to grow revenues rather than cut spending. "There is no center of gravity to reduce spending in this town, period, end of story," he said.

Other signatories of the October 24 letter include Scott Parkinson, former executive director of the Republican Study Committee; Tim Chapman, executive director of Heritage Action for America; T. Kenneth Cribb Jr., chief domestic adviser to former President Ronald Reagan; Kenneth Blackwell, chairman of Constitutional Congress, Inc.; Tom McClusky, president of March of Life Action; Lisa Nelson, chief executive officer for the American Legislative Exchange Council; Alfred S. Regnery, chairman of the Conservative Action Project; Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots; and conservative activist Ginni Thomas, according to sources familiar with the letter.

"As director of the Office of Management and Budget and as acting White House chief of staff, Mulvaney has overseen the office most responsible for implementing the Trump agenda throughout the government," the letter also said. "His attention, vision, and commitment to the president's policies has been evident from the beginning of the administration to today. We believe the president should make him permanent in the chief of staff role."

— CBS News' Steven Portnoy contributed to this report.

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