Meadows, a former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who has served in Congress since 2013, is the 25th House Republican to announce he will not seek reelection next year, according to a tally by the House Press Gallery.
Meadows, 60, was considered for the position of Trump’s chief of staff last year, but Trump ultimately told him that he would like him to remain on Capitol Hill.
“Congressman Mark Meadows is a great friend to President Trump and is doing an incredible job in Congress,” then-White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “The president told him we need him in Congress, so he can continue the great work he is doing there.”
In his statement, Meadows praised Trump and said his work with him “is only beginning.”
“This president has accomplished incredible results for the country in just 3 years, and I’m fully committed to staying in the fight with him and his team to build on those successes and deliver on his promises for the years to come,” Meadows said.
He did not elaborate on what that work might entail.
Meadows easily won reelection last year, receiving 59 percent of the vote against his Democratic opponent.
Meadows has been in talks with Trump for months about his possible next steps, with an increasing pull toward leaving Congress and taking on a high-profile role supporting the president’s reelection campaign, according to three people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly.
While Meadows came close to moving to the West Wing in December 2018 as chief of staff, he has since leaned against joining the government and contemplated leaving the House after the impeachment inquiry ended, since he does not enjoy being in the House minority and spends much of his time at the White House huddling with Trump, the people said.
Since Democrats took control of the House this year, Meadows has been one of the president’s leading allies in the chamber amid the impeachment inquiry and during the Russia investigation, offering vocal defenses of Trump’s conduct from his seat on the House Oversight Committee.
Meadows’s former House colleague, Mick Mulvaney, was ultimately tapped by Trump for chief of staff instead and now serves in an acting role. He replaced John F. Kelly. Several Mulvaney allies have long grumbled that Meadows still enjoys extensive access to Trump.
Meadows’s ubiquitous presence around Trump once annoyed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who has his own close ties to Trump.
But McCarthy and Meadows have grown closer over the past year as their battles over policy have faded, and they have united in defense of Trump, according to top Republicans who are close to both men.
“I wish Rep. Mark Meadows would stay. He’s been a great member,” McCarthy said at his weekly news conference.
Meadows, who is known for his ambition, explored other career options this year, including potential bids for higher office in North Carolina and other roles in the administration. Earlier this month, however, he told friends that he would probably be most comfortable playing a major role in the 2020 campaign as one of Trump’s top boosters, according to one person who has spoken with him about his plans and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.
Meadows plotted a rapid rise to power and influence in Republican Washington, one propelled by his early willingness to challenge the GOP establishment. He almost instantly leaped from anonymous backbencher to oft-quoted conservative insurgent in 2015.
Just before the House left for its summer recess — and on his birthday — Meadows filed a motion to remove then-Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) from his perch, seizing on years of growing dismay on the hard right. Within two months, Boehner would announce his resignation.
Meadows, as a co-founder and later chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, went on to play a pivotal role over the speakership of Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — inserting himself and the Freedom Caucus into virtually every major legislative decision in the House. This made Meadows a power player rivaling only the speaker himself.