CNBC Transcript: Former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney speaks with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” today about him resigning from his current role following the assault on the Capitol by pro-Trump protestors.
WHEN: Today, Thursday, January 7
WHERE: CNBC’s “Squawk Box”
Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (M-F, 6AM-9AM ET) today, Thursday, January 7th. Following is a link to video on CNBC.com:
'I Can't Stay Here' - Mick Mulvaney Resigns As Envoy To Northern Ireland
Joe kernen: steve. You might want to watch, that knows the president well, and we’ll see what he has to say we watch in shock as the demonstrators, pro Trump demonstrators stormed the capitol in the midst of a sacred constitutional process our next guest, Mick Mulvaney is one of the many voices who has called on the president to take action and condemn the rioters. But two months ago, he wrote in the "Wall Street Journal" Trump would concede gracefully if he lost the election for more on how we got here we’re joined by Mick Mulvaney, former director of the office of management and budget. If your prediction had been right, mick, the senate might still be in the gop’s hands, and that isn’t what happened
Mick Mulvaney: I think that’s right. No one likes to be wrong you especially don’t want to be wrong on something of the level of import. The tweet you saw dan scavino put out last night which I can only assume was authorized by the president, not to be at all expected that dan scavino would put out a tweet on his own of something of that gravity.That should have been out six weeks ago to say look, we’re going to continue to investigate this there will be investigations after the january 20th, but there will be a smooth transition of power, what should have come out six weeks ago. You’re right, I think the republicans would control the senate if that had happened, and certainly we would not have had that embarrassment, international travesty from last night. That’s a little bit too late from the president overnight
Kernen: were you surprised at how far -- how do you think it happened we’ve been inundated with a lot of the president’s character flaws, they’re well known that we have seen over the past four years. Have you been surprised by the extent of how those have manifested themselves post election
Mick Mulvaney: yeah, two things I think caught me as I was watching yesterday, number one, the president had always until the past had sort of, you know, thrown out hyperbolic ideas, say something in a meeting, why won’t we do x, and everybody that’s a bridge too far. No mr. President, that’s not how it works. He thinks out loud, that’s what he does. That’s one of his mannerisms what I think you saw yesterday was the result of an entirely different group of advisers inside the white house instead of saying mr. President, let’s talk about that, oh, yeah, that’s a great idea, mr. President. You’ve got folks like peter navarro, lynnwood, and rudy giuliani in the inner circle in the white house right now and saw a manifestation of that. That was much different than I expected the thing we need to talk about as a country, there was a large number of people, a large group of people yesterday who were willing to do this, the president of the united states went on stage and said go march down the street, and invade the capitol, and they did. That’s what stunned me because that was not the group of people that was working with the president when I was there the president never asked us to do anything unethical or certainly illegal, and if he had, wait a second, stop, we’re not going to do that for some reason, there’s a group of people in this country, and a large section of this country that is so angry and disconnected that they were willing to do that yesterday, and I think that’s as much of the story from yesterday as the president if not more so. The country is much more divided than I expected. I never thought, I had dinner last night with my children, I never thought I would see the day when american citizens would invade the capitol in order to prevent a transition of power. And as right as we are I think we are to be condemning the president for his role in this last night, I think we all have a lot of soul searching to do as to what allowed that to happen amongst the population as well it will be a long time before we fully digest what happened yesterday.
Andrew ross sorkin: mick, I have a personal question for you, and we have known each other for a long time, and I have enjoyed our conversations. I want to ask it to you straight up do you feel at all in retrospect that you were an enabler, as one of the people who ultimately supported the president, knowing what you knew about his character flaws, you know, joe just mentioned the character flaws. The character flaws were well known, the proclivity for lying was well known, the proclivity to incite was well known, and while I know you agree idealogically, I think, with a lot of the economic proposals, and other things, it did require a lot of people to look the other way. I wonder what you think about that today
Mick Mulvaney: andrew, it’s a fair question. Listen, like I said, I talked about this at great length with my family. We have three adult children who turn 21 next week, it was a good conversation as a family, and the answer is I don’t know what I feel yet entirely. I can tell you this, there are, most of us, almost all of us, except I guess the people who on the inner circle right now who didn’t sign up for what you saw last night we signed up for making america great again. We signed up for lower taxes and less regulation. The president has a long list of successes that we can be proud of for example, you could go and talk about the lowest unemployment rate for african-americans in history, and the first president in recent memory not to start a war overseas during his term there’s great successes there that we can take pride in. All of that went away yesterday, and I think you’re right to ask the question, how did it happen. All I can tell you is when I was in the building the president that you saw, I’ll ask you a fair question, do you think that maybe Donald Trump that came across in the media over the course of the last four years was the real Donald Trump. There are parts and parssions o that you saw him through a filter we didn’t. Yes like I said before there’s high pyperbole, thinkint loud but I never saw that in the white house, I’m so angry, I’m going to blow the whole place up, burn the whole place down. He didn’t have that. The thing I wrote in the "Wall street journal," I wrote we came to him with ideas, I’m not going to do that those are true stories that’s the president we knew when we were there clearly he is not the same as he was eight months ago, and certainly the people advising him are not the same as they were eight months ago, and that leads to a dangerous sort of combination as you saw yesterday. It’s a fair question I don’t know entirely how I feel, and I imagine a lot of folks in the building, a lot of folks who served him from the beginning who are no longer in the beginning are asking the same things this morning.
Becky Quick: you bring up the point you don’t think he’s the same person that he was eight months ago, there has been this talk, this reported talk at least among some people who were in the building, potentially some cabinet members, and potentially some republican senators the idea of invoking the 25th amendment to remove a president that they don’t think is capable of serving would you put yourself in that category or you just don’t know enough about what’s happening right now?
Mick Mulvaney: I haven’t talked to the president enough in the last eight months, three or four,half a dozen times a couple of texts here and there that type of thing I don’t have an insight into what’s going on in his mind. I talk to friends who are in there. It’s not at all surprising you don’t get to where you got to yesterday with something that’s normal. That’s not normal activity for any citizen let alone a president of the united states so it’s not surprising that you’re hearing that discussion this morning in fact, I caught a little bit of the interview before me about whether or not members of the cabinet would be leaving, and I certainly think that a lot of folks are wondering if I do resign today who’s going to take my place, and will it make it better or will it make it worse, replace me with somebody who’s closer to the folks guiding him inside the white house there’s soul searching going on at a bunch of different levels it does not surprise me at all that the 25th amendment is being discussed. It did surprise me that the house introduced articles of impeachment yesterday, it surprised me that they went home that was stunning to me that they wouldn’t stick around and debate that for a while. Nothing is off the table when a president of the united states encourages people to interrupt a constitutional process and violently have an insurrection against the government of the united states, then nothing is off the table in terms of a discussion that comes after that.
Quick: let’s talk a little bit more about the tweet from scavino that came out. A lot of people from dan scavino has pointed as a concession speech it’s not even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on january 20th I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of his presidency, and probably is from the president when you read the language, the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to make america great again. That’s not a concession speech he’s conceding he’s going to be leaving the white house on january 20th, and there will be this orderly trarnsnsition of power. People always say hillary clinton never accepted the facts but I went back and looked at hillary clinton’s concession speech last night I congratulated donald trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all americans. This is not the outcome we wanted or worked so hard for, and I’m sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country. I mean, that’s just totally different. Do you think we’ll ever get a concession from this president
Mick Mulvaney: it’s unlikely, and again, with all due respect, I think you’re splitting hairs it was never likely the president was going to issue a traditional concession speech and that’s not unusual. I’m waiting for concession speeches from politicians ten years ago. It doesn’t make a difference legally. It’s a custom in this country but it doesn’t have any legal bearing. Go back to the import of that statement, though, that statement that came out last night needed to come out six weeks ago, and if it had, the republicans would control the senate, we would not have had this event yesterday it’s a timing issue. That statement I guess is fine, assuming it came six weeks ago as of last night, I don’t think it changes anything. I think the legacy of the president was ruined yesterday instead of looking back now at all the things that he achieved, and his tweet, the greatest first term in presidential history, certainly he had an argument for a bunch of successes in the first four years. I mentioned the low unemployment rate for minorities, we talked about the taxes, economic growth, the lack of overseas wars. Those are tremendous successes, all of that is gone. The legacy of donald trump is now what happened yesterday at 1:00 in afternoon. And that’s a real shame. By the way, and that’s where I really think it hurts those of us who worked so hard to make it happen, folks who spent time away from our families, put our careers on the line to go work for donald trump, and we did have those discusses to look back at. Now it will always be you worked for the guy who tried to overtake the government. The legacy is gone as of yesterday, and that’s extraordinarily disappointing to those of us who worked for him.
Kernen: you want to make the point you’re still part of the administration, but not as of when. As of today
Mick Mulvaney: yeah, you know, again I talked about it last night with my family. I called Pompeo, special envoy to northern ireland, and it’s a small job, a part-time gig but it’s all I’ve got in the administration I called Mike Pompeo last night to tell him I would be resigning from that. I can’t do it. I can’t stay it’s a nothing thing it doesn’t affect the outcome. It doesn’t affect the transition it’s what I’ve got and it’s a position I really enjoy doing, but you can’t do it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of my friends resign over the course of the next 24 to 48 hours. It would be completely understandable if they did those who choose to stay, and I have talked to a couple of them, are choosing to stay because they are concerned that the president might put someone in to replace them that could make things even worse. I’m not condemning those who choose not to resign I understand that. But I can’t stay here. Not after yesterday. You can’t look at that yesterday, and think I want to be a part of that in any way, shape, or form I think there’s real heroes yesterday. Mike pence really proved himself yesterday. That was a historic thing that he did to stand up for the constitution robert o’brien, backing the vice president, I don’t think folks understand how hard it is for robert to do that, to back the vice president yesterday at a time when I’m sure the vice president was not very popular inside the oval office stephanie grisham, I thought her symbolic gesture was important the capitol police are heroes from yesterday but there’s a lot of folks today --
Kernen: Mitch McConnell pretty heartfelt speech, I thought, yesterday too