Ex-chief of staff never believed people would take Trump ‘literally’

  • Former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said he never thought Donald Trump’s supporters would take the president’s statements and rhetoric at face value.
  • “I never thought I’d see what I saw on Wednesday,” Mulvaney said during an NBC interview. “Yes, the rhetoric was very high and very fiery. You and I both know; however, that American politicians do this on a regular basis.”
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Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump’s former acting chief of staff, said he was shocked by the deadly Capitol Hill siege on Wednesday, partly because he never thought Trump’s supporters would take his statements and rhetoric at face value.

“It’s different … that people took him literally. I never thought I’d see that,” Mulvaney said during an interview with NBC host Chuck Todd on Sunday. “I never thought I’d see a day in our country where people from any side of the political spectrum would storm the Capitol in order to intentionally stop the constitutional transfer of power.”

Mulvaney, a former US House Representative, said he based his previous assumptions about Trump on his experience at the White House. The former acting chief of staff recalled that during a political crisis, the president consulted with his advisers, including his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy; and “bunch of his friends from New York,” before making an educated decision.

According to Mulvaney, that system “clearly … has broken down,” and he did not know “what’s going on inside the president’s head.”

“I had stories, I had background, I had seen that type of president,” Mulvaney said. “I never thought I’d see what I saw on Wednesday. Yes, the rhetoric was very high and very fiery. You and I both know; however, that American politicians do this on a regular basis.”

“That’s what different, Chuck. The country is different than I expected,” Mulvaney added. “It’s not the same as it was in those previous examples.”

Mulvaney had previously written an opinion column published in The Wall Street Journal titled, “If He Loses, Trump Will Concede Gracefully.”

Critics panned Mulvaney’s op-ed in the wake of Trump’s actions after the November election and immediately before the Capitol Hill siege that killed at least five people, including one US Capitol Police officer. Hours before the violence, Trump hosted an event near the White House to galvanize supporters to “never concede” in disputing the results of the presidential election.

At the time, a joint session of Congress was in session to count the 2020 presidential race’s Electoral College votes.

Rioting Trump supporters later stormed the halls of Congress, some threatening to kill congressional leaders, including Republicans, for their unwillingness to challenge the results of the election.

Despite the majority of lawmakers from both chambers voting to certify the results, a handful of Republican lawmakers formally objected to the counting, raising debunked theories of widespread voter fraud and lending credence to conspiracy theories that have repeatedly been struck down by federal judges.

Mulvaney became Trump’s third chief of staff in 2019, after Homeland Security secretary John Kelly and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus. He was replaced a year later by Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina.

Mulvaney later went on to become the special US envoy to Northern Ireland. He resigned on Wednesday, after the riots.

“I just, I can’t do it,” Mulvaney said during a CNBC interview. “I can’t stay.”

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