Columnist tears apart Trump’s ‘preposterously weak’ response to Cassidy Hutchinson’s bombshell testimony
It remains to be seen whether or not former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s bombshell testimony before the bipartisan January 6 select committee on Tuesday, June 28, 2022 will lead to some type of federal prosecution for former President Donald Trump and his followers, but there’s no question that she was a highly compelling witness. Hutchinson testified that on January 6, 2021, Trump had no problem with the fact that his supporters showed up in Washington, D.C. for his “Stop the Steal” event armed — and he wanted to march to the U.S. Capitol Building with those armed supporters.
Trump critics have been hailing Hutchinson’s testimony as the “smoking gun” and the damning evidence that the January 6 committee needs — critics ranging from liberal Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent to Never Trump conservatives such as the Post’s Max Boot, journalist David French and author/former GOP strategist Rick Wilson.
Trump and his sycophants, not surprisingly, have been railing against Hutchinson. And Sargent, in his June 29 column, lays out some reasons why their efforts to discredit her testimony are downright lame.
“Hutchinson testified to the January 6 select committee on Tuesday that Tony Ornato, then-White House deputy chief of staff, told her Trump erupted in fury as his detail refused to take him to the Capitol to join the mob, cursing and lunging for the steering wheel,” Sargent explains. “The Secret Service now says it will offer a response. A source close to the agency leaked word that Robert Engel, the agent in charge of Trump’s detail that day — along with the vehicle’s driver — are prepared to say under oath that Trump never lunged for the wheel.”
Sargent continues, “This has caused an outpouring of glee among Trump’s propagandists and online warriors. They called Hutchinson everything from a ‘grifter’ to a ‘glorified receptionist,’ which is funny, because as a top aide to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, she had a front-row seat at the highest levels of power. Meanwhile, Trump himself raged that Hutchinson’s story was ‘sick’ and ‘fraudulent.’”
Sargent goes on to slam “this pushback” from Trump and his devotees as “so preposterously weak.”
“First, Hutchinson was not relating her first-hand experience of that episode,” Sargent observes. “As Hutchinson recounted, she, Ornato and Engel were outside Meadows’ office after this episode, and Ornato described it to her. Asked whether Engel disputed this account at the time Ornato delivered it, Hutchinson said Engel did not…. If Ornato wants to respond under oath to Hutchinson’s testimony, guess what: There are many other things he can be asked about as well.”
Sargent adds, “For instance, Ornato was the person who informed Meadows that Trump supporters attempting to enter the rally were armed at a meeting on the morning of January 6, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.”
Boot, in his June 28 opinion column for the Post, argues that Hutchinson’s testimony may be to the January 6 select committee what former White House Counsel John Dean’s revelations were to Watergate. But the Never Trump conservative fears that Republicans won’t care how damning the evidence is, as they are still afraid to say or do anything that might offend Dear Leader.
“On June 25, 1973,” Boot explains, “former White House Counsel John Dean shocked the country with his testimony to a Senate committee, revealing President Richard M. Nixon’s complicity in the Watergate coverup…. He thereby set in motion the process that led to Nixon’s downfall a little more than a year later. It has taken 49 years, almost to the day, but on Tuesday afternoon, we finally heard congressional testimony about presidential misconduct whose shock value might rival Dean’s.”
Boot continues, “The question now is whether the Republican Party will finally realize that former President Donald Trump is not fit to hold office — that, indeed, our democracy might not survive another Trump term. Or will the GOP shrug this off, as they have every other Trump scandal, as a trivial distraction from what they regard as far more important issues, such as the price of gasoline?”
\u201c"I don't effing care that they have weapons," President Trump said of the crowd on Jan. 6, Hutchinson testifies. "They're not here to hurt me." https://t.co/l2GsR6imRQ\u201d— NBC News (@NBC News) 1656426375
Boot, however, stresses that there is one major difference between Hutchinson’s June 28, 2022 testimony and Dean’s testimony on June 25, 1973: Trump’s assault on U.S. democracy was much, much worse than anything Nixon did during the 1970s. In fact, some Americans who lived through Watergate — including former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks and Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein — have said that Nixon and Watergate pale in comparison to Trump’s treachery.
“What Trump has been credibly accused of is far worse than anything that Nixon ever did,” Boot warns. “There is, in fact, overwhelming evidence to show that Trump was guilty of trying to overthrow the United States government in a self-coup to perpetuate his power despite losing the 2020 election. Moreover, far from ending his plotting when he left office, as Nixon did, Trump continues to spread lies about the vote, to promote election deniers, and to do everything possible to rig the next presidential election.”
Boot adds, “In short, the cancer on the presidency that Hutchinson revealed is far more malignant than the cancer that Dean uncovered. The only way to excise this cancer is for Republicans to turn on Trump, as they eventually turned on Nixon after the revelation of the ‘smoking gun’ White House tape…. The cancer has been exposed but could still continue to metastasize.”
In a brief profanity-laced video posted on Twitter on June 28, Wilson hailed Hutchinson’s testimony as a major triumph for the January 6 committee.
“Folks, I’ve seen some crazy shit in my life,” Wilson told viewers. “I’ve been in politics a long time. But nothing takes the goddamn cake like today…. Please, for the love of God, go watch these fucking hearings. This is astounding.”
Wilson continued, “This is a president who sent his armed mob to the Capitol and knew what they would do…. They’re not here to hurt me; they can march to the Capitol. He knew they were armed. It’s un-fucking-believable. Anyway, Merrick Garland, call your office.”
\u201c@TheRickWilson Shocking. Another insider he barely knew.\u201d— Rick Wilson (@Rick Wilson) 1656440317
Conservative journalist David French, in a June 28 column for his blog The Dispatch, also uses the “smoking gun” argument in response to Hutchinson’s bombshell testimony — which he describes as “the most extraordinary congressional testimony I’ve ever seen.”
“She testified that the president was so committed to walking to the Capitol with his own supporters that he allegedly tried to grab the wheel of his Secret Service vehicle,” French observes. “She painted the picture of a president utterly out of control, a man so committed to preserving his own power that he approved of the riot and believed that Mike Pence deserved to face mob justice.”
French continues, “But the most legally significant testimony came in a few key sentences: Hutchinson claims she overheard Trump say about the crowd, ‘You know, I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away’…. I don’t know if Trump will face criminal indictment, but after Cassidy Hutchinson’s courageous testimony, the case for prosecuting Trump is stronger than it's ever been before.”
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