Sen. Ted Cruz’s former chief of staff, a longtime conservative favorite, is taking a new role in White House as President Donald Trump’s liaison to congressional conservatives, a White House spokesman confirmed with The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday.
Paul Teller, who served as Cruz’s chief of staff from early 2014 to July 2016, is expected to head congressional conservative relations for the new administration. The new role will put Teller in charge of ensuring that conservative congressmen in the House Freedom Caucus, Republican Study Committee and Senate Steering Committee are on board with the administration’s most important new policies.
Trump’s choice to bring Teller aboard is somewhat unusual, but could play in his favor when it comes to congressional relations. Cruz and Trump engaged in a fierce rivalry during the Republican presidential primary. Trump is known to surround himself with loyalists, but Teller could serve a strategic purpose.
Teller, like his former boss, isn’t afraid to go against the establishment. Neither is Trump. An October profile on Teller in The Hill described him as having a reputation as a “troublemaker.” The former chief of staff acknowledged he has always been happy to go against the status quo.
“I was always a classroom agitator,” Teller told The Hill. “I wasn’t necessarily the person who would organize a rally or a club to do this or that, but in the classroom, I was the guy with the hand up being like, ‘Uh, teacher, I don’t see it that way, or I disagree with that student over there.’”
Teller has paid a price in the past for his contrarianism. In 2013, after then-Speaker of the House John Boehner led a leadership takeover of the conservative Republican Study Committee, Teller was fired from his role as the longtime executive director, leading to outrage from conservatives. Then-Chairman Steve Scalise cited leadership anger over Teller working with outside conservative groups.
Undeterred, Teller moved to the Cruz office where he was responsible for working with House conservatives on fighting Obamacare.
Given Trump’s lack of political experience and maverick attitude, Teller’s Hill experience could come in handy.
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