When we heard there was going to be a surprise extra January 6 Committee hearing on Tuesday, complete with a secret witness, we figured it would be another whiff. We mean, what have we NOT heard about Donald Trump already?? It’s not like he ever faces any consequences no matter what he does.
Well, this might be different.
Tuesday’s witness turned out to be Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. She had already given recorded testimony about certain politicians *cough*Gaetz*cough* asking for pardons. But this time she agreed to testify live about everything she saw leading up to and after January 6. She was basically a fly on the wall for the entire period — and the stories she’s telling are WILD…
First off, Trump and his team did have some idea how bad January 6 would get well in advance. And they went through with it anyway. Cassidy says while she was escorting him out of the White House, Rudy Giuliani mentioned the plan for Trump to march on Congress as they tried to certify the election results. She says he told her:
“We’re going to the Capitol. It’s going to be great.”
That sounded wrong to her, so she asked her boss. And Meadows told her, she recalled:
“There’s a lot going on, Cass. But I don’t know. Things might get real, real bad on January 6th.”
She also recalls White House Counsel Pat Cipollone pulling her aside to try to get her to do whatever she could to stop what was coming. She remembered him warning her:
“We’re going to get charges of every crime imaginable if we make that move.”
It really sounds like the writing was on the wall (along with the ketchup — but we’ll get back to that). It’s really sounding like everyone could see clearly the result of Trump’s rally would be insurrection. And if they told him, that means he was warned by his counsel and did it anyway.
And if the attack on Congress — which has already resulted in over 800 people charged with crimes, even some pleading guilty to seditious conspiracy — was Trump’s plan all along, that absolutely makes him culpable. Right?
Look, we already knew he incited the crowd. In his speech on January 6, Trump told his followers to walk down to the Capitol Building. To refresh your memory, he said:
“And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down — We’re going to walk down. Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol — and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women. We’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
In his characteristically oblique, mob-like way of talking, it’s not hard to read between the lines here. “Take back our country.” “Show strength.” And it was meant to be even stronger language! (Look up what a political dog whistle is if you don’t follow.) Cassidy claims that far from Trump’s speech being considered “totally appropriate” his lawyers did have concerns it was inciting violence. The White House Counsel’s office flagged and ultimately deleted multiple lines, including things like, as Hutchinson remembers, “‘fight for Trump, ‘we’re going to march to the Capitol,’ ‘fight for what we’re doing,’ ‘fight for the movement.’” She claimed there were several other lines about Vice President Mike Pence which were also taken out.
What was left was less explicit, but it damn sure still sounds like he’s inciting violence. And there’s now more reason than ever to believe he knew what was coming next. Because Cassidy claims Trump also knew the crowd was heavily armed!
He Wanted The Crowd Armed
Hutchinson provided text messages from that morning in which she and deputy chief of staff Anthony Ornato pointed out the rally attendees who were heavily armed had gathered near the Washington Monument because they didn’t want their weapons confiscated when they went through the magnetometers.
She testified that the POTUS lost it at Secret Service when he saw they had set up magnetometers at the rally site. When he was warned they were for his safety as they detected weapons, he said, according to Cassidy:
“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 to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f-ing mags away.”
He ordered the magnetometers taken down so that he could specifically address followers carrying AR-15s and other weapons?? That’s beyond disturbing. That seems more and more like premeditation.
Could Trump actually face charges over this? If some of his followers who breached the Capitol with the intent of stopping the election certification committed seditious conspiracy, then doesn’t it follow that the man who knowingly directed them there ALSO committed seditious conspiracy?? Of course, we’re back to the question of charging a President — which seems for some reason to be impossible.
But how about a president who commits an act of violence himself??
He Tried To Strangle Who?!
OK, so remember how Trump said, “I’ll be there with you”? We assumed that was more of his bluster. After all, he never showed up at the Capitol. Well, according to Cassidy that wasn’t for lack of trying! The plan was always for him to go himself. National Security Council chat logs she provided backed that up — they expected he was marching on the Capitol. And he did, too!
She wasn’t in the car, but she testified about what she was told happened by those who were, immediately upon getting back to the White House.
According to what she heard, Trump believed his presidential limousine — known as The Beast — was being driven to the Capitol to lead his followers. The Secret Service agents, including the driver told him that wasn’t going to happen. When they refused — presumably because they were well aware how dangerous it would be after seeing the crowd and hearing what Trump had told them — he got “irate.” He yelled:
“I’m the f’ing president! Take me up to the Capitol now!”
And he even tried to grab the wheel and redirect The Beast toward the Capitol! And when an aide told him to take his hands off the wheel, he tried to strike them! Whoa!
When the head of Trump’s Secret Service detail continued to refuse his order, Hutchinson was told, Trump lunged at the agent and tried to strangle him!
He assaulted a Secret Service agent?! JFC.
But that wasn’t the end of his violent tantrums. Back at the White House, where Cassidy was a witness, she said the President threw his lunch against the wall because he was so angry the agents hadn’t taken him to the Capitol. That one wasn’t as much of a shocker for her — as she’d seen him throw his lunch at the wall before, following an interview Attorney General Bill Barr had given, presumably confirming the election was perfectly valid. She recalled:
“There was ketchup dripping down the wall, and there was a shattered porcelain plate on the floor.”
Remember how people thought Hillary Clinton couldn’t be president because women are too emotional for the job? Yeah…
Cassidy says she saw Pat Cipollone trying hard to convince Mark Meadows to get Trump to stop the violence, to tell his supporters — who had fought their way into the Capitol Building — to disperse. Trump apparently refused, as she recalls her boss telling the lawyer:
“You heard it, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”
“Mike deserves it.” They were chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” That’s what he thought his VP deserved for doing his duty and overseeing the peaceful transition of power? Well, you don’t have to guess what Trump thought. He tweeted at 2:24 that afternoon:
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify.”
Eventually he did record a video that afternoon telling the rioters to “go home” but “we love you” — again, after they had committed really serious crimes. But Cassidy says he was “reluctant” to even do that.
We mean, obviously.
You can see Cassidy Hutchinson’s full testimony (below):
One last thing. One of the big reasons Cassidy Hutchinson’s name was kept secret as long as possible? That was to keep her safe. According to text messages shown during the committee hearing, multiple witnesses have been tampered with — as Trump associates have been reaching out to them before their testimony to ensure their loyalty. One message implied Trump himself was keeping an eye out:
“ 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.”
Sounds like witness intimidation to us.
Does this really change anything? Well, some lawyers think so. Sol Wisenberg, a former deputy to Special Counsel Ken Starr, who led the case against Bill Clinton, was quoted by Peter Baker of the New York Times as reacting to the hearing by declaring:
“This is the smoking gun. There isn’t any question this establishes a prima facie case for his criminal culpability on seditious conspiracy charges.”
We feel like we’ve heard that one before. We’ll just have to see. Who knows, maybe there’s even more coming in these hearings!
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