Cassidy Hutchinson, a 25-year-old aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, demonstrated incredible courage and composure today as she revealed the nasty, vicious anger that seethed within the man once entrusted to be President of the United States.
Hutchinson, perhaps Meadows' closest and most trusted assistant, told the Select January 6th Committee that Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of "the Beast," the armored presidential limousine, on that fateful day when he demanded to join his mob at the Capitol but was told by aides that they could not go there, that they were instead heading to the White House.
Hutchinson said Trump, in a fit of anger, grabbed a secret service agent by his clavicle as the agent told him to get his hands off the steering wheel. But that was just one of several incidents of Trump's violence to which this soft spoken young woman testified.
Cooly, calmly, and without any embellishment or exaggeration, she described, first hand, what happened on January 6th inside the White House and days before. When she finished, both Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Co-Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) expressed their thanks for her testimony and the courage that it took for her to testify.
That is in stark contrast to the refusal of Meadows, himself, to testify before the panel, as well former trade adviser Pete Navarro, former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino,
and former Trump chief strategist Stephen Bannon. Those three have been indicted for contempt of Congress for their refusal. And Meadows, said Hutchinson, sought a pardon for his actions.
Before he spoke at his "Stop the Steal" rally that day, Hutchinson said Trump was angry that his crowd wasn't big enough and that many others who were armed with guns, including AR-15s, and wearing body armor could not get through the magnetometers put in place to detect weapons.
She said she overheard Trump say something to the effect of, ‘You know, 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.’”
That comment from the angry, self-absorbed Trump is especially telling. He knew the crowd, filled with armed Proud Boys and other right-wing lunatics, were there to support him, not hurt him. So who were they there to hurt? Who were the weapons for?
'Hang Mike Pence'
We know that one person they wanted to hurt was then Vice President Mike Pence, who Trump wanted to decertify the election of Joe Biden but refused. As they stormed the Capitol, they chanted "Hang Mike Pence," and Hutchinson said that Meadows, when urged to get Trump to call off the crowd, said "“He doesn’t want to do anything,” and “He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”
Asked how she felt about that, Hutchinson said that as a staffer responsible for assisting the administration, she was disappointed. But, then she added, “As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic. It was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie.”
And then, there is the tragically comical image of the orange one exploding in the White House dining room when he learned that Attorney general William P. Barr had said there was no validity to Trump's claim that the election had been stolen. The young aide said she helped Trump's valet clean catsup off the wall after Trump pounded the table and threw dishes. She said she witnessed several incidents like that at the White House many times.
Hutchinson described conversations involving cabinet members who were discussing invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from the presidency,
As the hearing closed, Cheney revealed that several witnesses have been contacted by Trump associates or loyalists in advance of their testimony and given warnings, an act that would amount to witness tampering, a federal crime. In fact, the committee kept Hutchinson's planned testimony a secret until this morning because they were concerned for her safety, according to The New York Times.
Following the hearing, Select Committee member Jamie Raskin (D-MD) was asked about charging Trump and others in his inner circle with federal crimes. That, he said, is up to the U.S. Department of Justice.
There is much more to unfold in additional hearings to come. Meanwhile, if additional witnesses with first-hand knowledge of Trump's actions fomenting the riot that occurred on January 6th, 2021 and his effort to overturn the election demonstrate as much courage as this 25-year-old mid-level staffer did today, our nation will be well-served, indeed.
Cheney said our democracy is being preserved by people "who know the fundamental difference between right and wrong," and credited Hutchinson for speaking truth to power.
Hutchinson’s lawyers issued this statement after she finished testifying. “Ms. Hutchinson is justifiably proud of her service to the country as a special assistant to the president. While she did not seek out the attention accompanying her testimony toyouday, she believes that it was her duty and responsibility to provide the committee with her truthful and candid observations of the events surrounding Jan. 6. Ms. Hutchinson believes that Jan. 6 was a horrific day for the country, and it is vital to the future of our democracy that it not be repeated.”
Following the hearing, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), was quoted by the New York Times as saying, "We can never let this man-child Trump ever become president again."