(The Hill) — Former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said that a “friend” who was in the White House during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot told him that Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows was experiencing “a little bit of both” incompetence and a “nervous breakdown” as the event unfolded.
During an interview with CBS Friday, Mulvaney said that he trusts testimony that Meadows’ former top aide Cassidy Hutchinson gave to the House committee investigating the attack. Hutchinson described Meadows to lawmakers as disengaged.
Mulvaney said he was texting with a friend who was in the West Wing on Jan. 6 as Hutchinson was testifying.
“I said, if I listen to Cassidy closely, it sounds like Mark was either completely incompetent at the job or having a nervous breakdown, and the person texted back it was a little bit of both,” Mulvaney said.
He said the position of chief of staff was “critical” in a moment like the insurrection, but Meadows seems to have “checked out entirely.”
Mulvaney said he defended former President Trump for more than a year, arguing that his actions on that day were not criminal, but Hutchinson’s testimony changed his view of the situation.
Hutchinson testified at a last-minute hearing late last month that was scheduled after the committee had announced a planned break from public hearings until July.
During the hearing, she told the committee that Trump was aware that some rally attendees at the Ellipse, before the insurrection, were armed. She also said Trump insisted on going to the Capitol along with his supporters.
She claimed that the former president tried to grab the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle to change course.
Mulvaney said Friday he knows Hutchinson, and she has “no reason to lie.”
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the vice-chair of the committee, also showed text messages toward the end of the hearing that indicated Trump may have engaged in witness intimidation.
Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone received a subpoena from the committee in the aftermath of Hutchinson’s testimony. He spoke to the committee Friday.
Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer after the meeting that Cipollone did not contradict anything that other witnesses said but added that “not contradicting is not the same as confirming.”
The Hill has reached out to Meadows for comment through America First Legal, a nonprofit organization led by former Trump administration officials. Meadows serves as a board member of the organization.