Mark Meadows, right, confers with Mick Mulvaney in the Oval Office on March 12, 2020.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
- Mick Mulvaney during a CBS interview questioned Mark Meadows’ response to the January 6, 2021, riot.
- “My words were, ‘Was Mark having a nervous breakdown?’ or was he that incompetent to the response or a little bit of both,” he said.
- Mulvaney said “there’s no reason” for Cassidy Hutchinson to have lied during her sworn testimony.
Former Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney said in a Friday interview that a “friend” in the White House during the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, remarked that then-Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows was exhibiting incompetence and having a “nervous breakdown” as the chaos ensued just blocks away.
During an interview on CBS News, Mulvaney — who served as acting White House chief of staff from January 2019 to March 2020 before Meadows succeeded him — expressed confidence in the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, the ex-Meadows aide who late last month gave a bombshell testimony to the House committee investigating the riot.
Mulvaney said that while Hutchinson was testifying before the committee, where she alleged that former President Donald Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of his SUV while demanding to be taken to the Capitol on January 6, he texted with a friend who was in the West Wing on January 6.
“I said, ‘If I listen to Cassidy closely, it sounds like Mark was either completely incompetent at the job or was having a nervous breakdown,’ and the person texted back it was, ‘A little bit of both,'” Mulvaney said during the interview.
“So you sort of get this impression that things had really broken down and Mark Meadows as the chief of staff — which is a critical position, especially in these critical moments — had checked out entirely,” he added.
Hutchinson during her June testimony spoke of the exasperation that she felt at Meadows’ lack of urgency when the Capitol was being ransacked.
“I start to get frustrated because I sort of felt like I was looking at a bad car accident about to happen where you can’t stop it but you want to be able to do something,” she said at the time. “I remember thinking in that moment, ‘Mark needs to snap out of this and I don’t know how to snap him out of this but he needs to care.'”
Mulvaney, who also served in the House from 2011 to 2017 and as a special envoy to Northern Ireland from May 2020 until January 2021, reiterated during the CBS interview that it appeared as though Meadows was not on top of the unfolding situation at the Capitol.
“My words were, ‘Was Mark having a nervous breakdown?’ or was he that incompetent to the response or a little bit of both. That would explain a lot of the breakdown in the West Wing,” the former lawmaker said.
Former Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Images
When Mulvaney was asked what his “tipping point” was as a longtime supporter of Trump, he spoke of Hutchinson’s testimony before the panel.
“I’ve defended the president over the course of the last year over how I didn’t believe that his actions on January 6 were criminal,” he said. “I did not believe specifically that he incited a riot. I quit because I think he failed to be the president when we needed him to be that.”
“But I defended him against the charges of criminal activity up until Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony. Again, I know her. She works for me. There’s no reason for her to lie. If she goes up and says the president knew there were guns, that makes me scratch my head,” he added.
However, despite his high regard for Hutchinson, Mulvaney said he has “not been a big fan” of the January 6 hearings.
“I thought that they should have allowed the Republicans to put the people on the committee that they should have — that Jim Jordan should be there, that Andy Biggs should be there. And that Nancy Pelosi was wrong to exclude them. That violated the customs and the history of the United States House of Representatives,” he said.
“I’ve never been a fan of this committee and I always thought it was wrong for Liz [Cheney] and Adam Kinzinger to go on there. For that reason, whenever Liz talks, I don’t believe it. I refuse to believer he interpretation of the facts,” he added.
Speaker Pelosi last year rejected Jordan, an Ohio congressman, from joining the January 6 panel after he raised objections to the 2020 presidential election results. Biggs, an Arizona legislator, has called the committee “illegitimate.”
Cheney and Kinzinger were tapped for the January 6 committee and became its only Republican members.
Mulvaney later said that despite his misgivings about the panel, he could not ignore compelling sworn testimony from a fellow Republican.
“When a Republican goes under oath and says something about a Republican president trying to undo an election, I pay attention to that,” he said. “When Republicans go on record and say that other Republicans may have broken the law, I think all Republicans should look at that. In fact, I think everybody should.”
Insider reached out to Meadows for comment.