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The battle for Donald Trump’s role in the Capitol riots is now full swing.
For weeks, many conservative commentators have been silent as the House committee has heard testimonies, mostly from Republicans, of Trump putting pressure on state and top Justice Department officials to help him undo the election, sometimes appealing to savage officials. CThese experts dismissed the January 6 panel as a purely partisan operation, saying it would not affect the election. Conspiracy theories.
But after the compelling testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, the former top assistant to Mark Meadows, some are concerned with the content.
In Fox prime time, Laura Ingraham said: “I spoke to some former White House staff, three or four in the afternoon, and they knew her well. And nobody had anything good to say about her performance today… their surprising Witness testimony explodes in their faces, and there’s another problem for the Democrats. Turns out voters don’t care about this January 6 charade.”
This video exhibit released by the House Select Committee shows Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, demonstrated during a House Select Committee hearing investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol on Thursday, June 23, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. After the compelling testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, the former top assistant to Mark Meadows, some are concerned with the content. (House Select Committee via AP)
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Sean Hannity called Hutchinson “the so-called witness”, adding: “We heard more rumors, a lot of rumors, and wow, a lot of impeachment evidence.”
Trump’s former acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, has jumped off the train. Mulvaney, who knows Hutchinson, told CBS Mornings: “I don’t think she’s lying. I found her testimony yesterday very convincing and very believable…”
Fox News employee Andy McCarthy called the witness’s story “devastating.”
The New York Times quoted “a trusted current adviser” as calling Hutchinson’s testimony “a murderer”“. In contrast, others admitted the revelations “may have been quite damaging, mainly political but also, possibly, legal.”
In an editorial, the conservative Washington Examiner said that the testimony “should sound the death knell to the political career of former President Donald Trump. Trump is unfit to ever come near power again.”
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. The former president, who has torn Hutchinson as a “yummy” and a “wacko” and denied most of her allegations, was back on Truth Social yesterday. He said she “lost all credibility”, calling her “a fake social climber who got caught” and accused her of joining those walkers’ “lies and made-up stories” to the committee. This is a “disgrace,” Trump said. “No cross-examination, no real Republicans, no lawyers, NO NOTHING… The chosen ones should be forced to break up. WITCH HUNT!” (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
The former president, who has torn Hutchinson as a “yummy” and a “wacko” and has denied most of her allegations, was back on Truth Social yesterday. He said she “lost all credibility”, calling her “a fake social climber who got caught” and accused her of joining those walkers’ “lies and made-up stories” to the committee. This is a “disgrace,” Trump said. “No cross-examination, no real Republicans, no lawyers, NO NOTHING… The chosen ones should be forced to break up. WITCH HUNT!”
Now Hutchinson, 26, distinguished between what she saw and heard in person and what she was told by other top officials, and when unsure of an exact quote, she said “words to the effect of.”
But a problem has surfaced that could tarnish her reputation.
One of Hutchinson’s most explosive accusations is that when Trump got into the presidential SUV and his demand to be taken to the Capitol was denied, he got into a physical altercation. She said she was told this by Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornato and that the Secret Service’s chief agent, Robert Engel, was in the room not disputing the bill.
The Times reports that “Secret Service officials who requested anonymity to discuss possible testimony said that both Robert Engel … and the driver of the vehicle were willing to swear under oath that neither man was killed by the former president.” he was attacked and that he failed to wheel.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022, after the first public hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol. A committee member, Jamie Raskin, has dismissed these accounts (also reported by Fox and other networks) as “anonymous rumors.” (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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A committee member, Jamie Raskin, has dismissed these accounts (also reported by Fox and other networks) as “anonymous rumors.” I just want to point out that the committee interviewed both Ornato and Engel, and it’s hard to imagine Liz Cheney would have provoked Hutchinson’s account if the other two men had contested it.
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This highlights a problem with how the Democrat-controlled commission has conducted its business. Why don’t you release that testimony? It’s a one-sided panel that builds a case. While the presence of pro-Trump Republicans would have disrupted the heavily scripted television show, that would have increased the committee’s credibility.
While afternoon hearings don’t draw huge ratings, many networks have replayed expansive clips of Hutchinson’s testimony with Watergate intensity. A former president has now been accused of making people march toward the Capitol with guns because he didn’t feel threatened, from demanding to lead the crowd of protesters because “I’m the damn president,”; and saying that Mike Pence deserved to be threatened with hanging and that the rioters were doing nothing wrong.
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Andy McCarthy writes in National Review that “it won’t be the same after this.” I think he’s right.
The hearings may fade, no charges may be brought, and most of the public may not care in November. But the barrage of social media posts shows Trump is concerned about his reputation, and some conservative media supporters are stepping up their defenses.
Howard Kurtz hosts FOX News Channel’s MediaBuzz (Sundays 11am-12pm ET). Based in Washington, DC, he joined the network in July 2013 and regularly appears on Special Report with Bret Baier and other programs.