The Slatest

Trump Officials Are Resigning Under the Guise of Principled Shock at What Trump’s Capable Of

Trump stands behind bulletproof glass and in front of American flags while inciting supporters in front of the White House.
 Donald Trump greets supporters on Wednesday in Washington.  Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Shortly after pro-Trump supporters laid siege to the Capitol, former acting Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tendered his resignation from his current out-to-pasture post as special U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland. “I can’t do it. I can’t stay,” Mulvaney told CNBC of his resignation Thursday morning. Mulvaney has been a bit of a utility aide throughout the Trump years, assuming multiple roles, starting as the budget director before being sent over to dismember the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and ultimately rising to chief of staff in January 2019. In that role, Mulvaney literally ran the Trump White House for 15 months, including in the early denialist days of the pandemic. That’s to say, Mulvaney has been a key player in Trump’s reality-bending term in office and he doesn’t get to feign ignorance and disavow his boss now.

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Though he’s certainly trying. Mulvaney told CNBC that Trump was “not the same as he was eight months ago.” Uh-huh. “We 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,” Mulvaney said. “But all of that went away yesterday, and I think you’re right to ask the question as to ‘how did it happen?’ ” Mulvaney is shocked, absolutely shocked, at Trump’s behavior that appears to have started juuust after he left the White House. It’s almost like Mulvaney, and the others that are scrambling to get off the Trump Train, are now worried that their toxic behavior as part of a toxic administration might ultimately poison their future professional and personal lives. “That legacy is gone as of yesterday and that’s extraordinarily disappointing to those of us who work for him,” Mulvaney said.

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After a thousand-plus days at the heart of the Trump administration, oh, the honor of resigning from an inconsequential post on principle—14 days before you’re set to leave anyway. But Mulvaney is not alone. Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger announced he’s jumping ship following Wednesday’s Trump-fueled insurrection. Former White House press secretary and current chief of staff to the first lady, Stephanie Grisham, resigned. So, too, did White House social secretary Rickie Niceta and a deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews.

There have been reports that National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, who kinda sorta wants to run for president himself, wants to step down but hasn’t yet. CNN reports deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell is considering leaving as well. These brave patriots fall under the broad rubric of “White House Officials Weigh Exits” that has been floating around since Trumpers explicitly turned on their country at their leader’s behest. There will certainly be more officials that quietly try to remove their Trump fatigues, slip into civilian clothes, and blend in with the crowd. They will act shocked and disavow and claim ignorance, but resignation two weeks before the end of the line isn’t an act of principle—it’s an act of self-preservation. The wind, at long last, may have shifted and those that created the infrastructure around Donald Trump that allowed this to happen are now furiously trying to wash off the stink.

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