Former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday described the president’s actions to incite a deadly riot on Capitol Hill last week as something “very different” from his time in the White House.
“You can go down a long litany of things that people complained about with Donald Trump and I could probably defend almost all of them,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Many of them were policy differences, many of them were stylistic differences, but Wednesday was different. Wednesday was existential. Wednesday is one of those things that struck the very heart of what it means to be an American, and it was wrong.”
Mulvaney resigned last week from his role as the U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland in the aftermath of pro-Trump rioters’ deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol. He had served as Trump’s chief of staff from January 2019 to March 2020.
“I feel a lot of emotions this week. I was shocked, it was angered, I was sad, I was embarrassed, I was frustrated,” Mulvaney said. “And I still am trying to figure out what I could have done differently.”
Mulvaney wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in early November in which he argued Trump would participate in a peaceful transition of power if he lost the election. “The U.S. needs to know that the winner is actually the winner,” Mulvaney wrote at the time. “And once Americans know that, I have every expectation that Mr. Trump will be, act and speak like a great president should — win or lose.”
Mulvaney defended that opinion piece on Sunday, stating that he “really did believe that at the time.”
He added: “I’ve seen the president be presidential before and I know that he has the ability to do it. He did it every single day. I don’t know what’s different, if it’s different about him now, if it’s different about his advisers.”
But Mulvaney was also pressed by host Chris Wallace about people — like former White House chief of staff John Kelly — who argue Trump isn’t different, citing comments from Kelly that accused Mulvaney of being a “yes man.”
“It’s easy now, Chris, for people who don’t like the president, who never liked the president, who always thought the president was a monster, wanted him to be that. People who saw him through the filter of the media to say, ‘Oh look, we told you so, we knew it was a was going to be like this,’ but those of us who worked with him every single day knew that the exact opposite was true,” Mulvaney said.
Mulvaney is one of several high-profile Trump administration officials who have resigned, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, since the rioters breached the Capitol building Wednesday afternoon — a riot that interrupted the debate around the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College win, forced lawmakers, staff and reporters to shelter in place, and threw the Capitol into chaos and violence.
He was asked if he would vote to impeach Trump if he were still a member of Congress — but sought to draw a line of distinction between talk of impeachment this week and the first time the president was impeached by the House.
“I think it’s different now than the impeachment was last year. Last year, impeachment was a witch hunt, it was a political thing, they were looking for an excuse to impeach the president forever,” Mulvaney said. “Now it’s different and I think it will be looked at very differently by members of both the House and the Senate.”