Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony was a preview of what’s coming next from Jan. 6 committeeJuly 5, 2022
The Washington Post is back today, wringing metaphorical hands over whether the committee acted too quickly in getting Hutchinson’s testimony before the public. According to the Post, putting Hutchinson in front of the cameras amounted to “rushing her into the witness stand” and “rolling the dice” while the committee “failed to thoroughly vet her claims.”
Except … they don’t know this. Neither The Washington Post nor anyone else outside the committee staff knows how much of Hutchinson’s testimony lined up with what the committee had already learned from other witnesses. What they do know is that members of Trump’s team were trying to leverage Hutchinson into silence, and that there was a chance she might not speak at all if leaned on long enough.
What is clear, based on an appearance from Rep. Adam Schiff on CBS over the weekend, is that Hutchinson’s testimony fits neatly into with what the public is going to hear the next time the cameras focus on the committee. The very next hearing, according to Schiff, “will be focused on the efforts to assemble that mob on the mall, who was participating, who was financing it, how it was organized, including the participation of these white-nationalist groups like the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters and others.”
The testimony up to this point shows that the Proud Boys were directly connected with steering Trump’s supporters to the Capitol, initiating violence and the breaking of police lines, and led the way into the Capitol buildings. Before leaving the stage at his Jan. 6 rally, Trump told those present to go to the Capitol, and he would be with them. There has also been testimony that Alex Jones and member of the Proud Boys who were on site at the Capitol told their followers that Trump was going to join them on the east side of the building. Hutchinson provided testimony showing that Trump absolutely intended to go to the Capitol, and was angry with staff who kept him from being at the scene of the insurgency.
All of this seems to be building blocks for what Schiff is promising next: how the mob at Trump’s rally was funded, directed, and used as a weapon in an attempt to overturn the government of the United States. All of this looks to be building toward extremely widespread charges of seditious conspiracy, including against Donald Trump.
“For four years, the Justice Department took the position that you can’t indict a sitting president,” said Schiff in his interview. “If the Department were now to take the position that you can’t investigate or indict a former president, then a president becomes above the law. That’s a very dangerous idea that the founders would have never subscribed to. Even more dangerous, I think in the case of Donald Trump. This—Donald Trump is someone who has shown when he’s not held accountable, he goes on to commit worse and worse abuses of power. So I agree with Judge Carter in California, I think there was evidence that the former president engaged in multiple violations of the law, and that should be investigated.”
Hutchinson’s testimony wasn’t rushed forward because it was an extraordinary outlier. Her testimony was heard last week specifically because it fits exactly into the framework that the committee is seeing from other witnesses. Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony was visceral and real, and and also a brick in the wall the committee is building. A wall that seems increasingly likely to describe criminal charges against Trump.
The most important thing that the Post article has to say about that testimony may be this:
Hutchinson’s account of cleaning Trump-strewn ketchup off White House walls and pleading with her onetime boss, former chief of staff Mark Meadows, to get off his phone and help quell the Capitol riot was watched by more viewers than all but one of the NBA Finals games this year.
Republicans can make any claim they want about the public’s interest in the hearings, but those numbers say it all. A huge number of Americans turned in to see Hutchinson calmly and clearly explain what it was like to live with Trump’s anger, immaturity, and disregard for anyone else. That’s a stain that’s going to be a lot harder to remove than getting ketchup out of wallpaper.