The sudden scheduling of yesterday’s hearings with no clue as to what to expect made some observers think there would be something explosive. I for one thought that it might turn out to be anti-climatic but I was wrong. The two-hour session featured just one witness Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. I, like many others, had never heard of her before these hearings began so her sudden prominent role took me by surprise. She occupied the office right next to Meadows and just down the short corridor from the Oval Office. In her role, she was often the conduit for people who wanted to reach the president. They had to to through Meadows which meant that she was the person whom they often first contacted. As such, she was in the thick of things. Her account of the events that led up to January 6th was a must-watch occasion.
We already knew that Trump has the temperament of a petulant two-year old. What she revealed was that he has the temperament of a violent, reckless, and petulant two-year old who has been thoroughly spoiled by his parents and has a tantrum and throws food and dishes when things do not go his way.
Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Donald Trump was outraged with former attorney general William Barr for refusing to go along with the president’s lies about widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
In December 2020, Barr told the AP in an interview, “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
Trump was so enraged by Barr’s comments that he threw a plate at a wall in the White House, Hutchinson said. She walked in to the room where Trump had eaten lunch that day to see a porcelain plate shattered on the floor and ketchup smeared on the wall.
When asked whether this was a common occurrence for Trump, Hutchinson said, “There were several times throughout my tenure with the chief of staff that I was aware of him either throwing dishes or flipping the tablecloth.”
What adult does things like that?
She described how in the days leading up to January 6th, the grown ups in the White House were getting increasingly alarmed at the prospect of violence that day but Meadows was passive and detached, spending most of his time on the phone and scrolling on it. She said that both Meadows and Rudy Giuliani later asked for pardons from Trump, clearly indicating that they thought they were in trouble. Since Trump at one point even toyed with the idea of pardoning the rioters, I am surprised as to why he did not pardon these two.
She said that at the Trump rally on the 6th where Trump gave his incendiary speech egging the crowd to attack Congress, he was most concerned that the crowd for the rally was not large and he blamed it on the fact that the people who were armed could not pass through the magnetometer detectors. Trump’s obsession with crowd sizes is pathetic. He demanded that the mob be allowed to bypass the detectors because he said that they would not harm him. That they might be intent on harming others did not bother him in the least.
Hutchinson texted one of her colleagues on January 6 that Trump was “fucking furious” about the crowd size at his rally and wanted the Secret Service to remove the magnetometers to allow more people in.
Hutchinson said, “I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f’ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f’ing mags away. Let my people in. They can march the Capitol from here. Let the f’ing people in. Take the mags way.’”
Trump even supported the idea of the mob having his own damn vice-president hanged.
Cassidy Hutchinson witnessed a conversation between Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, about the insurrectionists’ chants of “Hang Mike Pence!”
The committee has previously demonstrated how those who attacked the Capitol threatened Pence, as the vice-president oversaw the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Donald Trump himself repeatedly pressured Pence to disrupt the certification process.
According to Hutchinson, Cipollone said something to Meadows along the lines of, “Mark, we need to do something more. They’re literally calling for the vice-president to be f-ing hung.”
Referring to Trump, Meadows replied, “You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they are doing anything wrong.”
She said that Trump had wanted his motorcade to go to the Capitol building after the rally even though White House counsel Pat Cipollone was worried that there would be a whole host of criminal charges if he did so, saying “We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we let that happen.”
Donald Trump wanted to go to the Capitol with his supporters on January 6, and he reacted with rage when aides told him he could not do so, Cassidy Hutchinson testified.
Hutchinson said Tony Ornato, the White House deputy chief of staff, told her that Trump was “irate” when he was informed he would be returning to the West Wing instead of going to the Capitol.
According to Hutchinson’s testimony, Trump told a Secret Service agent, “I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now.”
The agent responded that he could not take Trump to the Capitol, prompting the president to try to grab hold of the steering wheel of his limousine, known as “the Beast”.
When that failed, Trump lunged for the agent’s throat, Hutchinson said. That same agent listened to Ornato as he recounted the story to Hutchinson.
Mind you, these secret service agents are supposed to be willing to take a bullet for the president. What adult tries to grab the steering wheel of a moving car? What adult physically attacks another person who is simply trying to protect you? An unstable sociopath, that’s what.
When at the rally Trump told the crowd that he would be there with them when they stormed the Capitol, they cheered. When he did not show up, some of them felt betrayed. I thought Trump never had any intention of going because he is a coward and would not want to get close to a mob and that he had lied as usual to fire up the crowd. I was wrong. He actually did plan to go. He should be grateful that the secret service saved him from such an idiotic act, rather than attacking them.
More and more people who worked for Trump seem to be willing to throw him under the bus. In his attempt to counter today’s very damaging testimony, Trump has responded that he hardly knows her, implying that she was a nobody who would not know anything. But he is lying again. Her office was just a few feet down the hall from the Oval Office and as Meadows’ aide, she would have been in the thick of things.
Furthermore, anyone who has worked in a reasonably big organization knows that there is a layer of people below the high profile big shots who are the ones who actually carry out the decisions that are made. As such they tend to be very much in the loop because they are the ones who draft memos, field questions, and communicate with other people in that same layer. They often are aware of things coming down that pike that their bosses may not be aware of. If you treat those staffers well, they will in return make you look good by executing promptly and covering up your omissions and errors. If you treat them badly, they can make you look bad by slow-walking their decisions, leaking damaging information, or do any of the numerous ways that a bureaucracy can gum things up.
Trump clearly treats underlings with contempt and they in turn are unlikely to go out on a limb to protect him. Other White House lower-level staffers have rallied to Hutchinson’s side with statements in support of her.
“Anyone downplaying Cassidy Hutchinson’s role or her access in the West Wing either doesn’t understand how the Trump WH worked or is attempting to discredit her because they’re scared of how damning this testimony is,” said Sarah Matthews, who served as deputy White House press secretary in the Trump administration.
Matthews added, “For those complaining of ‘hearsay,’ I imagine the Jan. 6 committee would welcome any of those involved to deny these allegations under oath.”
Trump’s former White House communications director, Alyssa Farah Griffin, echoed that suggestion, while applauding Hutchinson’s “courage [and] integrity”.
“Cassidy Hutchinson is my friend. I knew her testimony would be damning. I had no idea it’d be THIS damning,” Griffin said on Twitter.
“To anyone who would try to impugn her character, I’d be glad to put you in touch w/@January6thCmte to appear UNDER OATH.”
It seems like the committee is exploring the possibility that Trump and people close to him are trying to intimidate other witnesses from coming forward.
Here are highlights of her testimony.
This tweet pretty much sums it up.
Listening to this hearing today is yet another reminder that there is no aspect of the Trump presidency that could be written by a TV writer in a writing room. It would be ridiculed as too unbelievable and too unrealistic and too crazy.
But it all happened. In real life.
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) June 28, 2022
Stephen Colbert has a pretty good summary of the testimony.
Trevor Noah also provided some highlights, beginning at the 4:15 mark. The first four minutes consisted of him talking about ‘the slap heard around the world’, the brutal assault on Rudy Giuliani in broad daylight in a supermarket.
The next hearings will be after Congress returns from its recess on July 12th.