Jun 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

History's lens: Why Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony mattered

Cassidy Hutchinson
Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

In an era defined by blockbuster political hearings — James Comey, Robert Mueller, Brett Kavanaugh, Michael Cohen and Fiona Hill, to name a few — Cassidy Hutchinson and the House Jan. 6 committee successfully delivered what few others have.

What happened: Across two full hours of testimony, the 25-year-old former White House aide divulged a flood of jaw-dropping, new and highly relevant information about one of the most reported-on events in American history.

Why it matters: The country's top reporters have spent the last year and a half digging into the Capitol insurrection, plumbing their sources and public records to uncover bombshell after bombshell. And yet without this testimony from Hutchinson and other key figures, some of the most stunning details would be lost to history.

Case in point: In the leakiest White House in modern history, it never leaked that:

  • Former President Trump knew members of the Jan. 6 crowd were armed but still wanted the metal detectors removed to pack his rally on the Ellipse: "I don't f**king care that they have weapons, they're not here to hurt me," he reportedly said.
  • Trump was livid that Secret Service agents wouldn't take him to the Capitol after his Ellipse speech and allegedly lunged at both his chief of security and the wheel of the vehicle, Hutchinson testified she was told after the incident.
  • Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuliani sought pardons in the aftermath of Jan. 6.

Trump denied Hutchinson's allegations in a series of posts on his social media platform, Truth Social, and the Secret Service allegation in particular has not been corroborated by other testimony.

Between the lines: The committee wasn't supposed to hold another hearing until July, but made the snap decision yesterday to bring in Hutchinson and keep her identity closely guarded — fearing for her security and knowing the suspense would build expectations.

  • Hutchinson was previously represented by a lawyer with deep ties to Trump world, before hiring an attorney who served as chief of staff to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
  • "I think part of the legal advice she was receiving didn't allow her to be as forthcoming as we thought," Jan. 6 committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters. "At some point, she changed attorneys and she began to open up more and more about what was happening around Jan. 6."

The big picture: Hutchinson's testimony adds a new layer to the picture we have — at least in the public understanding — of Trump’s behavior in the lead-up to Jan. 6.

  • We knew Trump was desperate and listening to increasingly unstable people, as has been extensively reported by Axios and others.
  • What hasn't been part of the popular understanding but now will be — if the public believes Hutchinson's sworn testimony — is that Trump was behaving in ways that were truly unhinged: throwing food at the wall, encouraging armed supporters to march on the Capitol and endorsing calls to hang his vice president.
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