January 6 is Trump’s word against the word of former GOP allies

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Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony before the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on Capitol Hill began with an articulation of her Republican bona fides.

“Today’s witness, Ms. Cassidy Hutchinson, is another Republican and another former member of President Trump’s White House staff,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) explained at the start of the interview. audience. “Some of us in the House of Representatives remember that Ms. Hutchinson once worked for House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, but she’s also a familiar face on Capitol Hill because she served in a high profile role in the Bureau. of White House Legislative Affairs and later served as senior aide to President Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

The non-subtle point? He is not a left-wing anti-Trump activist. Rather, he is someone who was hired by Donald Trump’s administration after making a name for himself working for other prominent members of his party. She is, as Cheney said, “another Republican” – one of many members of his party who testify under oath against him.

While Trump and his political supporters — speaking their minds without a legal obligation to tell the truth — disparage Hutchinson and the other witnesses as false or impure, consider who the House committee interviewed in person in its first five public hearings.

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The first hearing, held this month, featured testimony from Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards and documentary filmmaker Nick Quested, who accompanied members of the far-right group the Proud Boys on the day of the riot.

For the second hearing, the committee interviewed a number of members of Trump’s party. Longtime Republican attorney Ben Ginsberg. Al Schmidt, former Philadelphia City Commissioner. Bill Stepien, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, was scheduled to testify but had to cancel. The hearing also included testimony from former U.S. attorney BJ Pak (a Republican appointed to the post by Trump) and former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt.

In the third hearing, the committee heard testimony from Greg Jacob, attorney for former Vice President Mike Pence, and J. Michael Luttig, a former judge renowned in conservative circles.

The fourth hearing included a number of state officials. From Arizona, Republican State House Speaker Russell “Rusty” Bowers. From Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling, a senior official in his office, both Republicans. The hearing also included testimony from Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, an election worker from Fulton County, Georgia, whose political affiliation is not known.

The fifth hearing continued the pattern. Richard Donoghue, Jeffrey Rosen and Steven A. Engel all worked for the Trump administration – Donoghue and Rosen in the Justice Department, both at one time appointed by Trump, and Engel in the House Counsel’s office White.

And then, at the sixth hearing, Hutchinson.

All under oath – and almost all of them having worked at some point explicitly for the benefit of Trump or his party.

But, of course, that is not how they are viewed by the remaining Trump loyalists. Just as Trump himself tried to fire the committee of two GOP members, including Cheney, the vice president, as somehow unclean for opposing his actions as president, his allies and future allies apply the same dishonest paint to the committee. witnesses.

On Monday night, for example, Fox News host Bret Baier interviewed Kari Lake, an Arizona gubernatorial candidate who was endorsed by Trump. She insisted the 2020 election was stolen, prompting Baier to note that Bowers, in his testimony, dismissed that idea.

“He’s a RINO,” Lake told Baier, using an acronym for “Republican in Name Only.”

“And he will hopefully be defeated,” she continued of Bowers. “He’s an absolute RINO.”

Bowers is a RINO only in the sense that Trump and his allies confuse criticism of Trump with rejection of the party as an institution. (This despite Bowers voting for Trump in 2020 and saying he would do it again in 2024.)

As Trump said of Cheney at one point: She has “no idea what our party stands for” — which has an element of truth given how important loyalty to Trump is to Republicans. during the last years.

Following Hutchinson’s testimony (and even while it was ongoing), Trump and his allies attempted to undermine or ignore his comments. The House Judiciary Committee Minority Caucus’ bizarrely aggressive Twitter account worked feverishly to undermine what she was saying. Trump himself has posted on Truth Social a dozen times (at the time of writing) about the hearing, disparaging Hutchinson, his testimony, and someone named “Chaney.” (Lon?) He made various claims about the veracity of what was presented – which, unlike his social media posts, was under oath.

Others simply dismissed Hutchinson’s testimony as unimportant, as did Fox News’ Laura Ingraham when she describe as “another effort to distract the country from the fact that the Democrats are losing on all fronts”. Texts from Ingraham were included in the hearing as the committee showed how Trump allies were calling on him to intervene in the riot.

Some members of Congress clung to the idea that Hutchinson’s testimony about Trump trying to get behind the wheel of his limo when leaving the Ellipse on Jan. 6, a story she was telling second-hand, was necessarily false given of car construction. But as CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski pointed out, the claims were focused on the wrong vehicle.

For other Republicans, even Trump allies, Hutchinson’s testimony was harder to dismiss. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s acting chief of staff before Meadows, summed up what was presented in clear and concise terms.

Mulvaney has previously approached Trump’s post-election efforts with skepticism. And why not? It wasn’t on his watch. But Mulvaney is also freed from having to treat Trump with obsequiousness for not running for office or trying to sell a book. Even without these demands, however, it has long been the case that opposing Trump’s worldview and rhetoric was not worth the backlash for anyone near his sphere of influence.

The fact that the House committee was so consistent in asking Republican witnesses to describe their experiences — often questioned by Cheney — made it harder for Trump and his supporters to dismiss everything. The fact that Hutchinson’s testimony was so powerful and will likely resonate widely (it aired on Fox News, for example) may make it even harder for Republicans to ignore what the committee presents.

If the best retort that can be mustered is “this critic of Trump is by definition not a Republican,” there may not be a solid defense of what Trump did.

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