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Did a White House Aide Just Pierce the Seemingly Impenetrable Trump Bubble?

For all practical purposes, the case against Donald Trump has been made.

Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies during the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol hearing to present previously unseen material and hear witness testimony in Cannon House Office Building, on June 28, 2022.

“They’re not here to hurt me,” White House Aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the 1/6 select committee, quoting Donald Trump’s reaction to the crowd on that fateful day. “Let them in. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol after the rallies are over. They can march from — they can march from the ellipse. Take the effing mags away. Then they can march to the Capitol.”

And with that, for all practical purposes, the case against Donald Trump was made. He and everyone there knew there were protesters armed with AR-15s and other weapons standing outside the perimeter. They did not want to pass through the magnetic weapons scanners — the “mags” — and have their weapons confiscated. Trump did not care; he knew they were not after him. He wanted them in the crowd for his speech, and then he wanted them to take the Capitol. Cassidy Hutchinson told us this plainly on the stand.

“I remember Pat [Cipollone] saying something to the effect of, Mark [Meadows], we need to do something more,” related Hutchinson at one point. “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, to which Pat said something, this is f’ing crazy, we need to be doing something more.”

Not long after 1/6, Meadows sought a presidential pardon for his actions on that day.

Hutchinson’s testimony painted a very clear portrait. She described a tyrant in full froth because his plot had been foiled. Period, end of file. Questions have arisen over an alleged violent incident in the presidential limo after Trump was barred from joining the marchers, but that has not seemed to diminish Hutchinson’s credibility to any great degree. The real story, again, is that people with guns wanted to get to the Capitol, and Trump wanted to let them and, apparently, then join them.

So here’s the really funny part: If you’ve been following the multifaceted drama surrounding the hearings, you know part of that drama involved Fox News, which at first refused to air them. This led to a range war between the daytime “news” anchors and the evening “talent.” The network relented and started showing portions of the testimony, heavily buttered with right-wing retorts before and after.

On Tuesday, Fox News chose to air every second of Hutchinson’s light-bending testimony before that committee. The question — “will the people who really need to see this stuff actually ever see it?” — has been answered. Not only did the Fox News audience see some 1/6 testimony, they saw what many are hailing as the most consequential congressional testimony since Watergate.

When it was over, Fox News anchor Bret Baier heaped praise upon the proceedings and left his co-hosts stunned and silent, gasping like fish jerked rudely into the murderous air. “Cassidy Hutchinson is under oath on Capitol Hill,” said Baier as he stared hard into the camera. “The president is on Truth Social making his statements. What is so compelling, I think, is how it was laid out…. The testimony in and of itself is really, really powerful.”

The hard right magazine National Review was likewise gobsmacked by Hutchinson’s testimony, and Review writer Andrew C. McCarthy made no bones about it. “Things will not be the same after this,” he intoned. “It was worse than America thought. Even Americans with extraordinarily low expectations about the former president’s previously undisclosed, behind-the-scenes behavior during the hours when the riot unfolded.”

The seemingly impenetrable bubble has been pierced. Beat that with a stick.

There remains a long way to go, more hearings, and eventually a decision by Attorney General Merrick Garland on whether or not to bring actual charges based on the committee’s data, and his own. Despite his outward appearance as an inert decorative object in this matter, I wouldn’t trade places with Garland for all the whiskey in Ireland. He has to decide if he should bring criminal charges against a former president for the first time in history, a decision that will cause mass unrest no matter what he chooses, and one stalwart Trump fan on the jury can blow the whole thing to hell.

That being said, if Garland was not compelled by yesterday’s astonishing testimony, someone needs to put him in a sunbeam and water him twice a week. As for myself, Hutchinson’s performance reminded me of the story of the man walking on a beach that was covered with thousands of dying starfish. He picked one up and carried back into the sea. A second man nearby shouted, “Why did you do that? Look at how many there are! You can’t fix this! Why does it matter?” The first man pointed to the water and said, “It mattered to that one.”

Today, for a brief and delicate time, I feel like the starfish that was put back into the sea. I would like more of the same, please and thank you.

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