Donald Trump’s former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has pushed back on his ex-boss’s attempt to whitewash the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol, saying that Mr Trump’s characterisation of the riot was “manifestly false”.
The former president on Thursday told Fox News that the rioters presented “zero threat,” even though five people died, including a US Capitol police officer (USCP), Brian Sicknick. More than 100 officers sustained injuries fighting back against the throngs of Trump supporters who overran police lines and tramped through the legislature.
“I was surprised to hear the president say that. Clearly there were people who were behaving themselves, and then there were people who absolutely were not, but to come out and say that everyone was fine and there was no risk, that’s just manifestly false. People died, other people were severely injured,” Mr Mulvaney told CNN on Saturday.
“It’s not right to say there was no risk, I don’t know how you can say that when people were killed,” the former Trump chief of staff added.
Mr Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman who served as Mr Trump’s chief staff from 2019 to 2020, resigned from his post as special envoy to Northern Ireland after the riot.
Mr Trump and some close allies, such as Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, have sought to downplay the deadly violence by a pro-Trump mob at the Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
In an interview with Fox News last week, Mr Trump claimed his supporters and police officers were “hugging and kissing” amid a mostly jolly affair.
“It was zero threat, right from the start, it was zero threat. Look, they went in, they shouldn’t have done it. Some of them went in, and they are hugging and kissing the police and the guards, you know, they had great relationships,” the former president said. “A lot of the people were waved in, and then they walked in and they walked out.”
Hundreds of rioters have been arrested, including dozens who have been indicted for “violent entry” and “theft” of US government property. Some had weapons. Others had zip ties and bear spray. One police officer was beaten by a rioter wielding a US flag.
The acting chief of the USCP has admitted that some officers behaved inappropriately during the riot after some were caught on video waving at and taking selfies with protesters.
At least four USCP officers and three former officers are facing federal charges for their actions on 6 January.
But while some officers appeared stunned and overwhelmed, others have described battle scenes with protesters intent on hurting them and getting to key lawmakers who opposed Mr Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.
Ten House Republicans joined all 222 Democrats in voting to impeach Mr Trump one week after the riot, on 13 January.