THE SCAMS DON'T WORK NOW
cassidy Hutchinson swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help her God, has moved us as decisively beyond questions of incitement and dereliction of duty by President Trump as did the testimony of John Dean before the Watergate Committee 49 years ago.
The narrative the by the January 6 committee crafted during Tuesday’s hearing was to clarify beyond the ability of bullshitters to continue bullshitting that Trump was not the mere bystander to the actions of others he couldn’t foresee, or a hapless egomaniac too fragile to accept the truth nursing personal grievances or a ineffectual leader slow to respond to the moment whose followers went out of control when they listened to his words. The well-worn Right Wing trope that Trump lit the fuse now seems anemic and pathetic. He did far more than light the fuse. He went and got the powder keg and stuck the fuse into and lit it with a flare.
Now it is clear. Trump was the prime architect, mover, instigator and cheerleader for the attempted coup.
Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony is driving brutal headlines for Trump across the country. Hutchinson’s revelations are being described as devastating, emotionally powerful and historic. By commenters on both sides. This morning, the Washington Examiner published a front page editorial stating that Trump has now been proven unfit to hold office.
Trump’s propagandists think they have found an answer that allows them to claim Hutchinson’s appearance was a flop. A single anecdote about Trump is being questioned by a handful of bit players who aren’t even offering their pushback publicly, let alone under oath. That his is the best they can do reveals just how weak Trump’s defenses have become.
That is Hutchinson’s testimony regarding Trump’s episode with the Secret Service in the SUV after the Ellipse rally, that then-White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato told her Trump erupted in fury as his detail refused to take him to the Capitol, cursing and lunging for the steering wheel.
A source close to the Secret Service leaked word that Robert Engel and the SUV’s driver are prepared to testify under oath that Trump never lunged for the wheel.
Trump’s propagandists and online warriors are now calling Hutchinson everything from “grifter” to a “glorified receptionist.” This is hard to do, given she was a top aide to chief of staff Mark Meadows and thus had a front-row seat at the highest levels of power. She literally had that seat, according to former White House staffers who have said that the person who occupied the office Hutchinson did was physically positioned to “know more than I did.”
Trump raged that Hutchinson’s story was “sick” and “fraudulent.” Marjorie Taylor Greene insisted people in the vehicle must be permitted to testify to the committee and that major networks should carry it live.
By all means, let’s do that.
Let’s put Tony Ornato and Robert Engel - who became notorious during Trump’s presidency as his faithful “yes men” - and the driver under oath on live television.
The Trumpscum pushback is preposterously weak. Hutchinson was not relating her firsthand experience. She, Ornato and Engel were outside Meadows’s office and Ornato described it to her. Asked whether Engel disputed this account at the time Ornato delivered it, Hutchinson said he did not.
The leaks don’t address this. They say Engel and the driver will dispute that Trump lunged for the wheel. Reached for it, grabbed for it, tried for it. The descriptive words are irrelevant.
It is worth noting that Ornato has already been accused of lying on Trump’s behalf and both he and Engel had a reputation of working as Trump’s enablers. Further statements today suggest the “denials” are semantic rathern than substantive - denying Trump “assaulted” Engel as opposed to denying there was a confrontation in which Trump demanded to be taken to the Capitol.
Ornato and Engel have gotten their denials into print without even agreeing to speak on the record. They could get their on-the-record quotes into print at the drop of a hat. All it takes is a phone call. The reporter who got the call and his or her editor would dance with joy to publish.
Ornato can deny ever recounting this episode to Hutchinson. He hasn’t.
If Ornato wants to respond under oath to Hutchinson’s testimony, guess what: There are many other things he can be asked about as well.
Ornato was the one who informed Meadows that Trump supporters attempting to enter the rally were armed at a meeting on the morning of Jan. 6, according to Hutchinson’s testimony. He can confirm or deny that conversation.
Hutchinson also stated that Ornato also told Meadows that he informed Trump of this, and Trump angrily demanded the armed supporters be let in, because “they’re not here to harm me,” after which he directed the mob to the Capitol to intimidate his vice president into completing his coup attempt.
Ornato can cofirm or deny that under oath. Is that something Trump supporters want?
Ornato and Engel can testify about whether Trump actually did want to go to the Capitol and what happened then.
Right now, the leaks supporting Trump create a tangential dust-up, precisely to remove the focus from Hutchinson’s core claims. The leakers say Secret Service officials will not dispute that Trump demanded to go to the Capitol in irate language. The Secret Service has said today that he was “irate” when he got into the SUV.
So let’s have Ornato and Engel tell us what he said directly to them. One would think they would leap at the opportunity to rebut Hutchinson’s testimony.Unless that would do more harm than good.
Greene’s insistence she wants them to testify on live TV is not to make that actually happen, but to convey the manufactured confidence that if that happened, truths being suppressed by Trump’s enemies would suddenly come to light. Her goal is to inject a fog of uncertainty into mainstream media coverage. This is how fascists deal with politics: create chaos, keep people from determining what is real and what isn’t.
But now, the revelations are so overwhelming the usual scams just aren’t working.
Earlier this month, Ginni Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, made a big show of her willingness and desire to come before the committee and clear her good name under oath. Yesterday, her lawyer said the committee just turns out to be too biased. So she won’t be testifying after all.
She doesn’t want to be questioned under oath about what she told Meadows about Trump’s support by the five traitors on the Supreme Court.
Ginni Thomas’ decision to reverse herself is proof of the damage Hutchinson’s testimony has done to the Trump traitors.
Maybe the story is different than Hutchinson claimed. But until Ornato and Engle speak on the record, it’s meaningless. The longer these two don’t agree to testify under oath, the more credible her claims are.
More importantly, the question of whether Trump’s speech at the Ellipse amounted to “incitement” is starting to change after Hutchinson’s testimony. Legal commentators and former DOJ officials who had publicly stated that Trump’s actions didn’t meet the exacting legal standard for incitement have now changed their views.
Alan Rozenshtein, an associate professor at University of Minnesota Law and former attorney-adviser in the DOJ’s National Security Division had previously argued Trump’s speech was “political” and therefore protected by the First Amendment. Hutchinson added a few sentences which, for Rozenshtein, changed that calculus. “Take the fucking mags away. They’re not here to hurt me. Let them in. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol after the rally is over. Rozenshtein now says, “There’s no question about intent. There are enough pieces of evidence about what Trump did that made this more likely than not. He tried to get the magnetometers removed, tried to get them to march on the Capitol.”
The testimony paints the picture of knowing wrongdoing by the former president.
It marks a shift for Rozenshtein, mirrored by other legal observers across the political spectrum.
Her testimony in conjunction with the other hearings have changed the views of noted conservative attorney and never-Trumper David French, wrote a column in the Atlantic arguing Hutchinson’s testimony provided persuasive evidence that Trump met the legal standard for incitement provided by the Supreme Court in the Brandenburg case: that of stoking “imminent lawless action.”
It’s not clear how Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco will view the testimony or if it’s even new information for them.
Whether Garland has the appetite to launch such a prosecution also isn’t clear. But the description of Trump’s conduct is now public, as are the concerns of those around him that they would need pardons before he completed his term.
Yesterday, I felt anger rising inside with every incident Hutchinson testifed to, that Merrick Garland’s DOJ has been as slow and ineffective as it has for the past 18 months. Only now does the Justice Department appear to be getting its act together and reaching beyond the foot soldiers to the higher ups.
Evidence gets lost. Memories grow stale. The sense of urgency fades. Delay makes building and prosecuting a case harder. Time is of the absolute essence. Hutchinson has shown the most action-adverse among them in the DOJ that it is now long past time to act.
That the Trumpers are acting as they are now is proof the curtain has been torn aside. They know the only way they’ll escape is for an Attorney General apparently more concerned with looking nonpartisan than with pursuing justice to keep dithering.
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