Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson gave some remarkable testimony about Donald Trump’s behaviour to the committee investigating the January 6th Capitol riot. But do her revelations make criminal charges against the former president more likely?
“As an American I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic. It was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie.”Cassidy Hutchinson, C-Span
That’s Cassidy Hutchinson.
She used to work as an aide to Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff.
Which means she had a front row seat inside the White House on January 6th 2021, when supporters of the president attacked the Capitol building.
And now she’s testified against Donald Trump in front of the congressional committee that’s investigating what happened on that day, and whether he bears any responsibility for it.
Cassidy Hutchinson is the closest person to the inner workings of Donald Trump’s administration to have appeared before the committee so far.
And over nearly two hours, she described what she saw and heard in the weeks after he lost the election to Joe Biden.
She described scene after scene in which an angry Donald Trump allegedly lashed out at people around him.
In one instance he flung food at that wall after hearing his attorney general, Bill Barr, publicly dismiss his false claims of election fraud.
”I first noticed there was ketchup dripping down the wall and there’s a shattered porcelain plate on the floor. The valet had articulated that the president was extremely angry at the attorney general’s interview and had thrown his lunch against the wall.”Cassidy Hutchinson, C-Span
Donald Trump, it seems, was mad with rage about losing the election.
But for the committee, Cassidy Hutchinson isn’t a star witness because of the colourful picture she painted about his state of mind.
It’s what she alleged about his intent to stir things up amongst his supporters that will help it build a case that Donald Trump committed federal crimes.
Cassidy Hutchinson said, under oath, that the president knew that people who had come to his Washington DC rally on January 6th were armed and dangerous…
His security told him as much before he went on stage to address the crowd.
But he said he didn’t care:
“I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, you know, “I don’t even care that they have weapons, they’re not here to hurt me.”Cassidy Hutchinson, recorded testimony, C-Span
And later he encouraged them to “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol anyway.
“After this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down, we’re going to walk down. Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol.”Donald Trump, January 6th, CNN
Cassidy Hutchinson said she was told that Donald Trump even wanted to join the crowd.
“The president said something to the effect of ‘I’m the effing president take me up to the capitol now’ to which Bobby responded ‘Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing.’ The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr Engel grabbed his arm and said: ‘Sir you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the west wing, we’re not going to the Capitol.’”Cassidy Hutchinson, C-Span
That series of revelations could amount to incitement to riot: a crime under federal law.
But how far does Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony contribute towards building that criminal case against Donald Trump?
Cassidy Hutchinson’s evidence was filled with gobsmacking moments.
But what makes her testimony really stunning is that she was a Donald Trump loyalist.
She’d interned for Steve Scalise and then Ted Cruz – both big supporters of the former president.
And in 2019, aged 23, she was trusted enough to take on a job inside the White House.
You don’t make it to a position like that in your early twenties unless you’re a true believer.
So for Cassidy Hutchinson to stand up in front of the January 6th committee and deliver bombshell after bombshell was significant.
Anonymous sources have disputed some of her claims, including the one about Donald Trump lunging at a secret service agent, which could be seen as a sign of just how seriously his supporters are taking her testimony.
But people who know Cassidy Hutchinson believe her. This was Mick Mulvaney, Donald Trump’s previous chief of staff, talking to CBS News…
“I don’t think she’s lying. I thought her testimony yesterday was very compelling and very credible.”Mick Mulvaney, CBS News
Cassidy Hutchinson’s evidence might mean the January 6th committee can recommend that the Department of Justice prosecute Donald Trump.
But for the authorities to build a criminal case they require more than just one person’s say so that something happened. No matter how credible they might seem.
Also, some of her evidence was second hand, which means it’s not admissible in court. If she didn’t see or hear it herself it’s just hearsay.
But there are plenty of things that Cassidy Hutchinson did see.
And it’s those eyewitness accounts that could make her a crucial figure in attempts to prove that Donald Trump had criminal intent: that he knew that what he was doing was wrong and pressed on with it anyway.
The Department of Justice has remained tight-lipped about its investigation into Donald Trump and his role in January 6th.
So it’s hard to know what impact Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony might have had.
But one thing is for sure: they will have been watching – intently.
Today’s episode was written and mixed by Ella Hill