August 14, 2022

Analysis: A former Trump chief of staff has emerged as an unlikely defender of the January 6 committee

The former South Carolina Republican congressman held the job of acting chief of staff to then-President Trump for more than a year. He also served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget and as a special envoy to Northern Ireland.

He resigned that last post following the riot at the US Capitol. “I called [Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo last night to let him know I was resigning from that,” said Mulvaney at the time. “I can’t do it. I can’t stay.”

And then, well, not much. Mulvaney was, generally speaking, a predictable defender of the former President.

That is, until recently. Mulvaney has become a defender of the House select committee investigating January 6 and a Republican willing to say that fellow members of his party need to be tuning into the hearings in the wake of the testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.
As Mulvaney tweeted in the wake of Hutchinson’s testimony last week:

“A stunning 2 hours:

1)Trump knew the protesters had guns

2)He assaulted his own security team

3)There may be a line from ProudBoys to the WH

4)Top aides asked for pardons

5)The commission thinks they have evidence of witness tampering.

That is a very, very bad day for Trump.”

He followed that tweet up with an op-ed in USA Today claiming, among other things, that “after some of the bombshells that got dropped in that hearing, my guess is that things could get very dark for the former president.”
He then appeared with CNN’s Jake Tapper, noting that he had been “defending the president over the course of the last year … and I never really thought until yesterday that he was capable of inciting the riot.”

Mulvaney has kept up the drum beat.

In an op-ed published in the Charlotte Observer Tuesday, Mulvaney made the case for the work being done by the committee.

Wrote Mulvaney:

“For the first time, evidence was presented that former President Trump knew some of the protesters were armed before encouraging them to go the Capitol, that right-wing extremist rioters communicated directly with the White House, that key Presidential advisers requested pardons, that the chief White House lawyer was concerned about getting ‘charged with every crime imaginable,’ and that someone within Trump world may be trying to tamper with committee witnesses.”

He then went on to make the case that Republicans need to be watching the public hearings of the committee.

“Despite all of the flaws in the structure of the heavily Democrat committee, almost all of the evidence presented so far is coming from eminently credible sources: Republicans,” wrote Mulvaney, noting the conservative bona fides of the likes of former Attorney General Bill Barr, Arizona state House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Hutchinson.

And then he gets to the crux of his argument (and the strongest argument in favor of the committee’s work):

“Yes, it is possible that all of those life-long Republicans succumbed to Trump Derangement Syndrome. It is possible they decided to ignore a life-long political affiliation. It is also possible they chose to perjure themselves about what they saw, heard and know. But if they didn’t, and half of the country isn’t paying attention, then that half of the country is clinging firmly to an opinion of Jan. 6, 2021 that is based on either false or incomplete information.

“And clinging firmly to a belief based on false or incomplete information can lead to disastrous results. January 6 itself is a stark reminder of that.”

Yes! This! You have to ask yourself why the likes of Barr and Hutchinson would lie about Trump — under oath, no less! Because they hate him? Even though they worked for him — often in senior positions? Right. It doesn’t make a ton of sense.

What’s clear is that Hutchinson’s testimony helped change Mulvaney’s mind about January 6. And he’s not shy about telling people about it.

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