It’s like something out of a bad Hollywood script, the kind that is too cartoonish and over-the-top to avoid the reject pile. Here’s the basic plot summary:
Our overheated action movie opens in the West Wing. An aide hears a noise coming from the hallway. She sees “the president’s valet in the dining room, changing the table cloth, ketchup dripping down the wall, a porcelain plate shattered on the floor.”
The outgoing U.S. president, desperately clinging to power, had thrown his lunch against the wall, angry that the attorney general wouldn’t help him overturn the election. The aide grabs a towel and starts wiping ketchup off the wall.
The president prepares for a rally where his supercharged, frothing-mad, and, in some cases, armed supporters will gather before storming the Capitol, where Congress is certifying his opponent’s win.
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Just days before, his chief of staff tells the aide quietly and calmly, “things might get real, real, bad on Jan. 6.”
Cut to the rally, where the president is furious that his supporters are being turned away from the area closest to him. Secret Service tells him they’re armed, and refusing to come through the metal detectors.
“I don’t effing care that they have weapons,” our deranged antagonist yells. ”Take the mags away,” he screams. “They’re not here to hurt me!”
Cut to an aerial shot of the Mall, where a mob of hundreds of angry protesters is marching toward the Capitol. Zoom in on the menacing signs, t-shirts and face-painted goons, some wielding knives, bear spray, metal poles, tasers and guns.
Ominous music intensifies.
Cut to the West Wing, where White House counsel is running into the chief of staff’s office. “Something needs to be done,” he pleads, “or people are going to die and the blood’s gonna be on your effing hands. This is getting out of control!”
Meanwhile, on the Mall, the president demands he be taken to the Capitol by his Secret Service agent, where’s he’s apparently hoping to join his armed supporters in an insurrection.
“I’m the ‘effing’ president, take me up to the Capitol now!” the hammed-up line reads.
Back to the West Wing, where White House counsel is ominously warning staffers that if the president does indeed go to the Capitol, “we’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable.”
Cut to the presidential motorcade, where the president is now wrestling his driver for control of the steering wheel. “Sir,” says the steadfast agent, “you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing.”
The president reaches his free arm toward the agent and grabs for his neck….
That’s where it ends.
Except, it isn’t a movie. That’s all from actual testimony in the Jan. 6 hearing this week. And it hasn’t ended. We all know how Jan. 6 went. President Donald Trump — a real-life villain with no redeeming qualities — watched a violent attempted coup from his office in the White House, reportedly reveling in the chaos, “gleefully” admiring the violence of his supporters, hitting rewind to watch it again.
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This as staffers, members of Congress, cable news personalities and his own children begged him and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to do something to make them stop.
The horrifying details laid out in Tuesday’s congressional hearing by Cassidy Hutchinson, aide to Meadows, paint the picture of an unhinged lunatic so drunk with power and hell-bent on destroying democracy that he knowingly sends an armed mob to breach the Capitol.
This is inarguably indefensible and appalling, or at least it should be.
But the official Twitter account for the House Committee on the Judiciary (ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan) tweeted:
“Reaction to today’s January 6th Committee hearing,” and a meme of Trump smirking and shrugging. For his part, Trump spent the hearing melting down on his flailing social media enterprise, dismissing Hutchinson as a “bull s—t artist,” a “total phony and a ‘leaker.’” “She is bad news!”
While the news side of Fox News, a solo operation named Bret Baier, admitted Hutchinson’s testimony was “stunning” and “jaw-dropping,” the network’s biggest stars have dismissed the hearings — and the insurrection — as no big deal.
Tucker Carlson has called the violence of Jan. 6 “forgettably minor,” describing it as mere “vandalism.”
Sean Hannity, who personally pleaded with Meadows to urge Trump to tell the mob to go home, nevertheless claimed Trump was “the one person that looks good” after the first hearing, and blamed Capitol Police and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for failing to contain the insurrection.
Sen. Marco Rubio has previously called the hearing a “Hollywood-paid political advertisement” and “garbage,” insisting “people already know what happened.”
Clearly, they weren’t watching the same movie the rest of us have been.
Because in our movie, the heroes and villains are well-defined and unambiguous. And as unbelievable as it all seems, Trump and his abettors cannot rewrite the script.
S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.
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