Chris Whipple says he stands by his position that Mark Meadows was the worst White House chief of staff.
Whipple, who wrote about the post’s history, says Meadows is the worst than the infamous HR Haldeman.
“The Watergate characters really do look like choirboys compared to Trump and Meadows and their gang,” Whipple said.
Author Chris Whipple, who has interviewed dozens of White House chiefs of staff, said Cassidy Hutchinson’s shocking testimony before the Jan. 6 committee has made it abundantly clear that Mark Meadows is by far the “worst” White House chief of staff in history.
In the wake of Hutchinson’s damning testimony about her former boss’ inaction around the Capitol riot, Whipple argued that even Richard Nixon’s Watergate friends are incomparable.
“It used to be a pretty stiff competition for the worst chief of staff in history, but Meadows absolutely owns it,” Whipple told Insider in a Thursday interview with Trump’s fourth chief of staff.
Hutchinson, a former top Meadows assistant, painted a breathtaking portrait of her boss doesn’t seem to be surprised by an uprising unfolding just blocks away, an attack sparked by President Donald Trump’s campaign to reverse the election.
“The rioters are getting very close. Have you spoken to the president?’ Hutchinson told the committee she questioned Meadows as the riots unfolded.
According to Hutchinson, Meadows replied, “‘No, he wants to be alone now.'”
Hutchinson further described repeated attempts to convince one of the most powerful people in the US government to worry about a violent attempt to storm the Capitol, where Meadows served four terms in the House.
“I’m starting to get frustrated because I felt like I was watching a serious car accident that was about to happen where you can’t stop it, but you want to be able to do something,” she said. “I remember thinking at that moment, ‘Mark has to get out of here and I don’t know how to get him out, but he must care.'”
This image, Whipple said, particularly Meadows’ muted response to the violence, will become Meadows’ lasting legacy.
“I used to think that the defining enduring image of Mark Meadows would be a robbery for Don Trump Jr.’s video camera in the tent at the Ellipse, just before Trump went out to instigate a mob to attack the Capitol. said Whipple. “I now think the defining image of Meadows is the man on the couch in the White House chief’s office scrolling through his phone as a violent mob attacks the Capitol Police that day.”
During her testimony, Hutchinson often portrayed Meadows sitting on his couch and scrolling through his phone. In one instance, she said, didn’t Meadows look up when he mused that? “On January 6, it might get really, really bad.”
Calling Meadows the worst chief in history means that Trump’s latest chief will be elevated above HR Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff during the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up attempts. haldeman, who spent 18 months in prison for his rolecalled himself Nixon’s “asshole.”
Mark Meadows even struggled in an admittedly difficult role, Whipple says.
Whipple said it’s even clearer to him, after Hutchinson’s testimony, that Meadows was much worse than Haldeman. The magnitude of what the public knows about Meadows’ behavior has only grown since the January 2021 Washington Post where Whipple first stated he was the worst chef in history.
“The Watergate characters really do look like choirboys compared to Trump and Meadows and their gang,” Whipple said. “That was the most serious political scandal in American political history to date, but it pales in comparison to a president sending an armed mob to the Capitol, knowing they are armed, knowing there will be violence. And having a chief of staff. who at best just shrugs and looks the other way and at worst was a co-conspirator.”
A Meadows spokesperson did not respond to Insider’s request for comment. In a statement to NBC NewsBen Williamson, a former assistant to Meadows who is now Meadows’ spokesman, disputes any idea that Meadows didn’t care about the Capitol attack.
“I’ve worked for Mark Meadows for seven years – any suggestion he doesn’t care about is ridiculous,” Williamson wrote to NBC earlier this week. “And if the committee actually wanted answers to that question, they could have played my interview where I explained to them how Meadows acted immediately when I told him about the initial violence in the Capitol that day. They seem more interested in rumours, speculations. , and guesswork as a means of smearing people, and it’s obvious why.”
Meadows initially cooperated with the Jan. 6 commission’s investigation, sending thousands of text messages describing the extent to which lawmakers and even Fox News hosts pleaded with the White House to get Trump to calm the crowd. But since then Meadows has repeatedly refused to provide more documents or to testify about the texts. The House later disdained Meadows, although the Justice Department has reportedly ruled that it will not prosecute him for his refusal.
Whipple wrote the verbatim book on White House chiefs of staff.
Whipple literally wrote the book on what it’s like to be the best assistant to the president. In “The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Each Presidency,Wipple traced the history of the post, starting with President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Sherman Adams, nicknamed the “Abominable Nobody”.
The task has only become more critical as the modern presidency has increased the size of the executive office. It can be so stressful that Dick Cheney blamed his first heart attack at work† James A. Baker, whom Whipple and other historians have claimed to be one of the most effective ever to hold the title, has said that only the president is more powerful than their chief.
“I’ve often said that White House Chief of Staff may be the second most powerful job in Washington, DC. I think that’s true. But so much depends on your relationship to your present.” Baker told NPR in 2017 during a joint interview with Whipple.
Trump went through more chiefs of staff than any other single-term president or even a president in just their first term. Whipple admits those who took the job faced “mission impossible” in appeasing a mercurial president. But even judged by this curve, Whipple says Meadows is still woefully short.
“What he wanted is what he ended up getting in Mark Meadows, which is a sycophant,” Whipple said of Trump’s approach to the work. “I think he was less of a chief of staff than some kind of cheerful maitre d’ trying to please Trump in every way possible. And in fact, he basically told everyone what they wanted to hear, not just Trump. He was and is a spinless character and the opposite of the best leaders.”
Other former Trump staffers have also gone after Meadows. In her memoir, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway ruled that Meadows “didn’t match the moment” despite billing himself as a “chief’s chief.” thull itself lashed out at the North Carolina after Meadows wrote in his own book that Trump contracted COVID-19 before the first presidential debate. (The Meadows spokesperson later claimed it was a misunderstanding of a false positive rapid test and that Trump did not have COVID during the debate.)
It is now up to President Joe Biden’s administration to figure out how to respond to what the Jan. 6 commission discovers. But Whipple doesn’t expect this to be the end of what Americans are learning about what really happened in the West Wing under Trump’s watch.
Reince Priebus, who had just left the Trump White House when “The Gatekeepers” was published, made a comment to Whipple that has proved eerily more prescient as time goes by.
“Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by 50,” Priebus said of the early heady days of the Trump administration. Whipple will be writing about Biden’s presidency in the near future “The fight of his life.”
Whipple pointed out this week that even in Washington few people knew who Hutchinson was.
“I have no doubt there’s a lot more to come up. Think about where we were on Monday rather than at the end of the day Tuesday when Cassidy Hutchinson finished,” Whipple said. “I don’t think we’re quite at the end of the road.”
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