“Republicans cannot both be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution,” Liz Cheney said Wednesday from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, where she was speaking as part of the Reagan Presidential Institute’s series “A Time for Choosing.”
Calling former President Trump “a domestic threat that we have never faced before,” Cheney’s remarks carried new weight, coming on the day after she presided over the most shocking installment of the January 6th Hearings to date. She invoked Tuesday’s revelations in her speech, saying that the “threats to American democracy are growing and the country stands at the edge of an abyss.”
Just what monsters might live in the depths of that abyss came into stark focus Tuesday, as Cassidy Hutchinson, aide to former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, gave testimony to the House Select Committee.
“They’re not here to hurt me”
Hutchinson’s testimony provided an up-close-and-personal view of Trump’s inner circle on January 6th and the days leading up to the riot at the Capitol. She detailed the callousness of Trump, the detachment of Meadows, and the panic of staffers and legal counsel as the President made determined efforts to undermine the 2020 election by any means necessary.
One such scene described by Ms. Hutchinson involved the President being told that many in the crowd gathered for his speech on the Ellipse were armed. “Knives, guns, bear spray, body armor, spears and flagpoles.”
“Mr. Trump, she testified, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the [magnetometers] away. Let the people in, they can march to the Capitol from here.’”
An enraged Trump attacked his own security
One consistent focus of January 6th analysis has been on crises that almost happened, but didn’t. The near-misses. Like just how close Vice-President Pence actually came to rioters calling for him to be hung. Or how a Capitol Police Officer, hero Eugene Goodman, managed to trick rioters into following him—away from the too-near Senate chamber.
Another such near-miss seems to have been Trump himself leading his crowd of deplorables to the Capitol.
According to Hutchinson’s testimony, “Told after his speech that he could not go to the Capitol because of security concerns, Mr. Trump became “irate” and said “something to the effect of, ‘I’m the f-ing president, take me up to the Capitol now.”
Then, when his Secret Service agents pushed back, told him no, it wasn’t safe, they were taking him back to the White House, “Mr. Trump “reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel,” and lunged at him, Ms. Hutchinson said.”
Trump wants us to believe he just sat there passively?
Trump later denied this in a statement posted to his Truth Social account. We note, however, that unlike Ms. Hutchinson, Mr. Trump was not under oath. Also, let’s face the fact that Trump told the crowd he was going with them, so either he got in the car and when told he couldn’t go to the Capitol he just shrugged and said OK, or he said something like… I’m the F*ing President and then displayed another of his documented temper tantrums.
And back at the White House, watching the rioters Trump had just unleashed storm the Capitol on television, Ms. Hutchinson testified that, “I remember Pat [White House Counsel Pat Cipollone] saying something to the effect of, ‘Mark, we need to do something more. They’re literally calling for the vice president to be f-ing hung. And Mark had responded something to the effect of, ‘You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.’”
In the meantime, the New York Times has reported extensively on the possible legal ramifications of all this for Mr. Trump. According to that reporting, “Over the past month, the committee has aired hours of testimony — none more significant than Ms. Hutchinson’s narrative of Mr. Trump’s actions on the day of the attack — that legal experts believe bolstered a potential criminal case against Mr. Trump for inciting the mob or attempting to obstruct the special session of Congress.”
“At each of its hearings this month, the panel has presented evidence that members believe could be used to bolster a criminal investigation. The committee has provided new details about cases that could be built around a conspiracy to defraud the American people and Mr. Trump’s own donors, as well as plans to submit false slates of electors to the National Archives and obstruct an official proceeding of Congress.
At its hearing on Tuesday, the committee laid out how Mr. Trump had forewarning of violence, allowed a mob of his loyalists to attack the Capitol and, in fact, agreed with what they were doing.”
So will any of this lead to Attorney General Merrick Garland indicting the former President? Only time will tell, but it seems more likely every day.