Trump’s corruption on Jan. 6 becomes clearer in riveting new testimony
On Tuesday, Cassidy Hutchinson gave a vivid insider’s account of the former president’s corrupt intent to stay in power — and his knowledge that his supporters were armed with weapons before they marched to the Capitol.
The depth of former President Donald Trump’s election corruption came into much sharper focus Tuesday at the surprise House Select Committee on Jan. 6th hearing.
Trump’s defenders have said he did nothing criminal in trying to overturn the 2020 president election, because he actually believed he had won.
But the testimony at Tuesday’s dramatic hearing showed otherwise, reinforcing previous testimony that showed Trump was repeatedly told he’d lost.
Among other crucial revelations, Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified Trump knew his followers were armed yet encouraged them to march on the Capitol from his “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse.
“I don’t f***ing care that they have weapons,” Hutchinson recalled Trump saying that day, in a videotaped deposition she gave to the committee that was played at Tuesday’s hearing. “They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f***ing mags (magnetometers used to screen for weapons) away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.”
Trump didn’t want his supporters screened for AR-15s, handguns or other weapons — because “they’re not here to hurt me.”
Who did he think they were there to hurt?
“Real, real bad”
With a calm and collected demeanor, Hutchinson gave a vivid and riveting insider’s account of how Rudy Giuliani and Meadows knew ahead of time that violence was likely on Jan. 6 and that Meadows said “things might get real, real bad.” Hutchinson also confirmed earlier reports that Trump thought then-Vice President Mike Pence deserved to hang for refusing to upend the counting of electoral votes in the Senate.
Hutchinson also added an insider’s view to the timeline showing how Trump refused to ask the insurrectionists to go home. She painted a portrait of what author Carl Bernstein, after hearing her testimony about Trump throwing plates in the White House, called “a mad king” and seditious president desperately refusing to give up power.
Taken together with the volumes of evidence the committee already has amassed, it adds up to corrupt intent on the part of Trump and his allies. We heard from Hutchinson about Trump allegedly demanding to be taken to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse and trying to the grab the steering wheel from a Secret Service agent who was bringing him to the White House instead.
If Hutchinson’s story is accurate — remember, she and the rest of the committee’s witnesses are testifying under oath — Trump clearly knew his presence at the Capitol could further inflame the crowd, which he evidently wanted.
On Tuesday, we also heard Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chairwoman of the committee, raise concerns about possible witness tampering.
The mounting evidence tells us Trump clearly understood he was out to prevent the peaceful transition of power after losing the 2020 presidential election. We learned more Tuesday about what Trump knew and when he knew it. We hope Hutchinson’s testimony will encourage those who have refused to tell what they know to come forward, including Meadows, whom she portrayed as virtually sitting by rather than acting to protect Congress.
Instead, she said, Meadows, along with Giuliani, sought pardons from Trump after the Capitol assault.
Each of the committee’s hearings has shown, repeatedly, that Trump was more deeply involved than previously realized and was passive when he should have been actively trying to calm the crowds.
As John Dean, a star witness in the Watergate hearings a half-century ago, said on Tuesday, Trump and his allies radiated misbehavior.
Republicans who refused in the early part of Trump’s tenure to acknowledge his unstable behavior because he gave them what they wanted stand further indicted after Tuesday’s hearing. They also are to blame for refusing to remove Trump from office when he was impeached a second time after the Jan. 6 assault.
They ducked their responsibility to send a signal that future coup attempts will not be tolerated, and that our democracy is more important than an unhinged leader’s power-hungry ego.
We have yet to learn whether the U.S. Justice Department will prosecute Trump. Lawyers and governmental institutionalists say it’s not an easy call to indict a former president.
Yet it is becoming increasingly clear how narrowly the nation escaped a coup. To avoid another attempt in the future, legislation must be enacted that adds protections to electoral laws. Voters must keep election deniers from becoming the backbone of the Republican Party. Insiders who engaged in trying to bring democracy to a halt should suffer penalties sufficient to deter others from attempting coups.
America ought to be a beacon of democracy. Trump and his allies tried to extinguish that light.
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