“One brave lady.” The Hearing
“I am a staffer. My job is to showcase the achievements of the President. I was frustrated, disappointed and saddened by what was happening…as an American, I was disgusted. This was unpatriotic, un-American.”
-Cassidy Hutchinson, former Aide to Mark Meadows, Chief of Staff in the Trump Administration, commenting on what she was feeling and experiencing on January 5th and 6th. Day 6, January 6 Committee Hearings.
Days before Tuesday June 28, Cassidy Hutchinson secured the services of a private protection agency presumably to protect her from physical harm. On June 28 Ms. Cassidy, former Aide to Mark Meadows, Chief of Staff in the Trump Administration, would be on her way to Congress to honor a request that she provide the Hearings with sworn testimony ‘live’ on scheduled cable television.
She would be the sole ‘live’ witness testifying before the January 6 Select House Committee on Day 6 of the Hearing. She would be escorted to and from the Hearing Room by a detail of the Capitol Police.
Consider ‘just another day’ in America’s revered Capitol, site of the January 6, 2021, Attack on the US Capitol.
Consider that for the audience June 28 was not just another day but something else entirely different.
The January 6 Committee did an ‘about face,’ scheduling Day 6 only 5 days after Chair Bennie Thompson gaveled a recess until the next Hearing “sometime in July.” We’re still in June so the Press and the public were left to speculate on the urgency behind the rescheduling.
And there was little notice: the Day 6 schedule change was released early Monday, June 27. The name of the witness would not be released until shortly before the Hearing the next day. At 10:00am, two hours before the Hearing, June 28, America learned that the witness would be Cassidy Hutchinson, aide to former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows.
Why the mystery around this witness and the urgency of hearing her testimony?
As compelling as her testimony would be, the January 6 Committee decision had little to do with Ms. Hutchinson, and more to do with the Committee’s assessment that America needs to know this now…
Building throughout the January 6 Committee Hearings was a revisited tradition which needed to accelerate. This tradition was building a case with evidence provided by political party members and political colleagues of the accused. A tradition which began with the Senate Watergate Committee Hearings (1973). (1)
In the end it was Republicans, not Democrats, who turned Nixon in.
Above: A key strategy of forging conviction with a partisan audience is to use questioners from the same party as the witness. Here Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyoming Republican) questions witness and former Meadows Aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, Day 6
But would this ‘Watergate strategy’ work for the January 6 Committee?
Throughout Days 3, 4 and 5 America heard testimony from Republicans and Trump careerists, those who hitched their star to President Trump. Some of these folks opted to be the next generation of Trump/Republican “world” habitués. Hutchinson is one of this group — charming, careerist, a slick operative with a great memory, a bulging Rolodex and Twitter fingers.
Cassidy Hutchinson is 25 years old, and a loyalist with some legislative experience: a wunderkind in tailored jacket and slacks, At 23, Hutchinson moved over to the White House in 2019 to work for Meadows and Trump. With one foot in Congress, Hutchinson accompanied Meadows to every meeting, “large or small.”
Hutchinson commands more respect than her boss, the ‘artful dodger-like’ Mr. Meadows. Meadows had first agreed then declined to cooperate with the January 6 Committee. The Committee subpoenaed his documents and phone records to corroborate what they were able to get from the National Archives. Meadows refused. The Committee then referred the matter with House approval to the DOJ to follow up with obstruction charges. The DOJ declined to pursue charges. (2)
Speaking for the January 6 Committee, Chair Thompson asked the public to interpret Hutchinson’s coming forward ‘at this time’ as an example to others — notably, Meadows and Trump lawyer, Pat Cipollone — to cooperate with the Committee and share with the public what they knew about the attack on the Capitol.
The timing of the Hearing, the urgency to accelerate the gathering of evidence was apparent: wading through staffers’ memos and phone logs would be more convincing if corroborated. Hutchinson ‘mattered’ because of her proximity to Meadows and Trump, fulfilling her role, as “I am a staffer.”
The January 6 Committee had several reasons for acting expeditiously:
Foremost was the testimony from Ms. Hutchinson directly linking Trump to the violent attempt to overturn the election, the first witness account that Trump tried to use violence and physical intimidation to stop the transfer of power. (3)
The second reason was more significant: to leverage the information already gathered in order to obtain more qualitative information, better information to convince. At one point during the testimony, Vice Chair Cheney cautioned Hutchinson, not to draw conclusions about her boss’s role, saying “he’s under subpoena.” Better the public, a grand jury perhaps, to draw conclusions.
By hour two of Hutchinson’s live testimony Trump tweeted on Truth Social that he didn’t know Hutchinson… he had had no contact with her…she must have an axe to grind, yadda’, yadda.’
That Trump tweeted, “he didn’t know her,” is laughable. Hutchinson worked out of an office twenty feet from the Oval Office.
The third reason was, unlike the Watergate break in and the subsequent coverup, the overthrow of election results based on “the big lie,” was ongoing, in real-time. In 27 states election rules are being rewritten to make it easier to toss out results not conforming to Republican aspirations. Against this backdrop the country is headed towards another attempt to overturn election results with violence.
Only a fraction of the January 6 attackers and organizers are behind bars.
For the public, being convinced requires being alert. And this human factor demands not only an open mind but time and space. This Hutchinson ably evoked on Day 6 and during her 20 hours of video record. She was convinced. She didn’t buy in. She was scared. She quietly left her office in the West Wing on January 20, 2021. She came forward, live, June 28, 2022.
Troubling was the fact that Hutchinson did not leave ‘Trump world’ January 7.
Above: Mobster-in-Chief, January 6. Image is part of the video record released from the National Archives to the January 6 Committee.
According to Ms. Hutchinson, Trump was furious January 6 that the Ellipse wasn’t packed with supporters. Trump ordered that the magnetometers be removed., “They are not coming after me,” he said.
Michelle Goldberg, opinion columnist of the New York Times provided a reality check for MSNBC viewers, June 28 (4):
‘I don’t like the man, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling shocked to hear what he does. And I was shocked by today’s testimony. For example, Trump’s public threat to Pence, “And if you don’t, I will be very disappointed in you,” was a warning Trump knew would be listened to by the mob, a mob he knew was armed.
And he fought with a Secret Service officer for the wheel of a vehicle carrying him from the Ellipse to the White House. He wanted to go to the Capitol.
At the conclusion of Day 6, a receiving line formed just off the Committee dais with Cassidy Hutchinson shaking hands as Committee members filed out. Poignantly, it was a moment of civility between players, Republican and Democrat, in a Congressional drama, leaving one to wonder if America would ever again witness a civil transfer of power.
Hutchinson’s new security detail was waiting to escort her out of the building.
1-Jeff Greenfield, “Why Sessions Recused Himself,” Politico, March 2, 2017
2- ”A Midnight Journal,” Medium https://rodneyclough.medium.com/midnight-journal-d4a9dcb0c012
3-Neal Ackerman, former assistant federal prosecutor (Watergate Hearings), guest commentator, The Beat with Ari Melber, MSNBC, June 28
4-Guest commentator, The Beat with Ari Melber, MSNBC, June 28