Mick Mulvaney said Jan 6. chaos revealed “a complete breakdown” in West Wing operation
▶ Watch Video: Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone testifies before Jan. 6 panel
While former White House counsel Pat Cipollone spent his day being deposed by the House Jan. 6 select committee, former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney discussed with CBS News’ Catherine Herridge what he thinks happened inside the White House during the assault on the Capitol.
Mulvaney, who preceded Mark Meadows as chief of staff and overlapped with Cipollone, said it was easy to imagine Cipollone’s warnings to then-President Trump’s aides regarding Jan. 6, 2021, as he listened to top Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson testify before the committee in late June.
“‘Please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen,'” Cipollone said, according to Hutchinson’s testimony. “That movement” referred to the possibility of Trump heading to the Capitol along with a mob of supporters as members of Congress ceremonially counted the Electoral College votes. He was ultimately thwarted in his desire to go to the Capitol, instead spending the rest of Jan. 6 at the White House.
Mulvaney told Herridge that as he was watching the testimony, he felt that, “yeah, I could absolutely see Pat saying that … I can hear that- that sentence in his voice coming through my head.”
After Hutchinson testified, Mulvaney tweeted that it had been a “very, very bad day for Trump.”
He called Cipollone “a man of integrity” though he noted that “we didn’t get along personally,” and said he has not spoken with him “in awhile.”
Mulvaney said that in his experience in the White House, Trump welcomed conflict among his advisers. He “would love to have people in a room who would fight with each other, who had differences of opinion.” But in the final days of his presidency, Mulvaney — who was ousted from his job in March 2020 — said he feared that model “simply broke down,” and “the normal people were not there — that for whatever reason, it was only the crazies.”
While the Capitol was under attack on January 6, Mulvaney had no insight into what was happening inside the White House.
“No one would return my calls, no one would return my texts,” he told Herridge. He added, “I tweeted at the president of the United States to try and get somebody to engage.”
Mulvaney said he learned more about what happened from a text conversation with a friend who he said was inside the White House on January 6. Mulvaney said that conversation occurred while Hutchinson was testifying.
“I texted and I said, ‘You know, if I listen to Cassidy closely, it sounds like Mark was either completely incompetent at the job or was having a nervous breakdown,'” Mulvaney said. “And the person texted back, it was a little bit of both.”
In hearing Hutchinson’s version of events, Mulvaney marveled at the “chaos in the building.” He said what he heard represented nothing less than “a complete breakdown in the operation of the West Wing.”
The job of chief of staff is, he said, “to tell the president stuff he doesn’t want to hear.”
Zoe Lipner and Grace Kazarian contributed reporting.