WASHINGTON — President Trump's next chief of staff was among a chorus of his Republican critics after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape, saying of the then-presidential nominee: "He is not a very good person."
"What he said in the audiotape is disgusting and indefensible," Mulvaney, then a South Carolina congressman seeking reelection, wrote on his campaign Facebook page in 2016. "My guess is that he has probably said even worse."
Even as he was critical of his party's presidential standard bearer, Mulvaney went on in the post to explain why he would still vote for him that November.
"I've decided that I don't particularly like Donald Trump as a person. But I am still voting for him. And I am still asking other people to do the same. And there is one simple reason for that: Hillary Clinton," he wrote.
He went on to attack Clinton in the post and raise her husband's infidelity, suggesting Democrats had no standing to attack Trump for his previous lewd comments about women.
"In politics, we call that hypocrisy. And it is the worst part of American politics," he said, arguing that neither Clinton nor Trump would be a role model for his children. "Don't talk to me about which one should be 'disqualified from holding the office.' In a perfect world, they both would be," he wrote.
The post and others like it have long since been deleted, but were shared with NBC News by a South Carolina Democratic political operative on the condition they not be identified.
Video from a debate against his Democratic rival in 2016 shows Mulvaney making a similar comment.
"Yes, I am supporting Donald Trump, I'm doing as enthusiastically as I can [even though] I think he's a terrible human being," he said. "But the choice on the other side is just as bad."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Mulvaney's past comments.
Trump named Mulvaney, who has served as budget chief since the start of the administration, as acting chief of staff Friday. Mulvaney tweeted that the appointment was a "tremendous honor." White House communications director Bill Shine said he chose him "because the president likes him, they get along."
As the head of the Office of Management and Budget and also acting chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mulvaney by all accounts has become one of the president's most loyal and longest-serving advisers.