Hutchinson Puts Trump’s Violence on Display
Let’s stipulate a few things that 26-year-old Cassidy Hutchinson testified to, under oath, before the House January 6th Committee:
- President Donald Trump was warned that his supporters were armed before he gave his speech on Jan. 6th. He wanted them to be packed in close to the stage at his rally anyway because he said, as Hutchinson recalled, “They’re not here to hurt me.”
- With the full knowledge that members of the mob were armed, the president was insistent that his supporters not only go to the Capitol, but that he personally lead this mob there. As we already knew, Trump then directed this mob of thousands—which, again, he knew were armed—to go to the Capitol during his speech. (“I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”)
- White House Counsel Pat Cipollone warned Hutchinson that if staff allowed him to lead the mob to the Capitol, “We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.”
- Hutchinson said then-White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato told her that Robert Engel, then the head of Trump’s Secret Service detail, refused to take Trump to the Capitol. When Engel refused, Trump said, “I’m the f—ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now.” Then, Trump “reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel.” She said Ornato told her that Trump used his free hand to “lunge” at Engel. In recounting this story to Hutchinson (in the presence of Engel), Ornato gestured toward to his throat to indicate a physical attack.
- Trump steadfastly refused to condemn the attack. Instead, he wanted to make a speech defending the rioters, raising his willingness to pardon them, and issue further attacks on then-Vice President Mike Pence. (Which is exactly what Trump is doing in speeches now.)
- Hutchinson revealed that both her direct boss—Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff—and Rudy Giuliani sought pardons from the president for their participation in activities related to Jan. 6th—as did several members of Congress.
Hutchinson put Trump’s capacity for violence and willingness to break the law on display. By doing so, she put herself in danger. This is not theoretical. The committee had to keep her name under wraps out of concerns for her security.
During the last hearing before Hutchinson’s, witnesses Rusty Bowers, Gabriel Sterling, Brad Raffensperger, and Shaye Moss talked in detail about how they have been threatened and harassed in their homes and at their jobs by Trump supporters. (Remember that Bowers, Sterling, and Raffensperger were/are also Trump supporters. They just weren’t willing to break the law for him following the 2020 election. And for this reason, their fellow Trump supporters threatened to kill them.)
Also: At the end of the hearing, Cheney said the committee had evidence of witness tampering and further acts of intimidation from “Trump World.”
Cheney said that as a matter of routine, the committee asks witnesses if they have been contacted by former colleagues or anyone else who may attempt to influence their testimony. Although she refrained from naming the witnesses, Cheney said that two people connected to the White House told the committee the following in response to those questions. She read their statements directly into the record.
“What they said to me, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know I’m on the team, I’m doing the right thing, I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World. They have reminded me a couple of time that Trump does read transcripts and just to keep that in mind as I proceeded through my depositions and interviews with the committee.”
“[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition. . . . I think most Americans know that attempting to influence witness to testify untruthful presents very serious concerns. We will be discussing these issues as the committee carefully considers our next steps.”
The most horrifying aspect of these revelations is that the 26-year-old Cassidy Hutchinson isn’t the only one who knows all of this. Yet out of all the president’s aides—a collection of well-established lawyers, people with fat media contracts, and military men with pensions—she’s the one who was willing to testify under oath about it.
By all appearances, Hutchinson served her conservative bosses faithfully during her brief career. But now, who will stand by her?
She provided the names of plenty of people who can confirm her testimony and give even more detailed information about exactly what happened as the president of the United States tried to overturn an election: Pat Cipollone, Tony Ornato, and Robert Engel, and those are just the small fry.
Where is her former boss, Mark Meadows? Is he still praying for a pardon?
Where is Mike Pence? He’s happy to tell everyone about how well he performed his patriotic duty on Jan. 6th. Except for the actual Jan. 6th Committee. Instead, he sent his loyal underling Marc Short to testify in his place.
What about the other cabinet members—the ones who privately talked about invoking the Twenty-fifth Amendment to remove Trump because they knew how unhinged the president was? Shouldn’t they put their experiences on the record?
Why do they think protecting their own parochial interests and precious Republican identities is more important than protecting people like Hutchinson and more broadly, the country?
Even out of their own self-interest, don’t they realize that they are no longer Trump’s chief enablers and that they have become Trump’s targets? The mob didn’t chant “Fuck Joe Biden” on Jan. 6th. They chanted “Hang Mike Pence.”
Donald Trump rose to power by waging war against Republicans. This war paused temporarily when the party gave Trump its unconditional surrender. But the ceasefire was always tenuous, because any time a Republican—even a loyal, Trump-loving Republican—refused an illegal demand, or came into possession of information dangerous to Trump, Trump’s mob targeted them.
Right now Cassidy Hutchinson is the target. But simply by offering her testimony, she has exposed Meadows and all the rest as being potential dangers. Trump surely sees this, too.
If only these great Republican personages could be as patriotic as the young staffer they once ordered around.