Cup of Joe – 6/30/22

The testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson moved us decisively beyond questions of incitement and dereliction of duty by President Trump.

The narrative crafted by the Jan. 6 committee during Tuesday’s hearing was that Trump wasn’t a mere bystander or a hapless egomaniac nursing his personal grievances or a ineffectual leader slow to respond to the moment.

Trump, in the committee’s telling, was the prime architect, mover, instigator and cheerleader for the attempted coup. The well-worn trope that Trump lit the fuse seems anemic and pathetic now. He did far more than light the fuse.

To extend the metaphor, Trump called for the bomb-making, wanted to take down the magnetometers to allow the bombthrowers in to his rally, directed the bombthrowers from his rally toward the Capitol, tried to join the bombthrowers so he could waltz into the House chamber himself, rooted for the bombthrowers from the West Wing, and hindered the federal government and law enforcement from responding adequately to the bombthrowers. In short, Trump was a bombthrower.

Perhaps most tellingly, his own chief of staff, as rendered in Hutchinson’s testimony, seemed to know it all along. At best, Mark Meadows resigned himself to it and at worst he enabled and facilitated it. I find it a strained interpretation that he was merely resigned to it.

Not everyone gets it yet. It’s going to take some time to sink in. Trump wasn’t unaware or indifferent. He wasn’t passive or disengaged. He was an active, willing, aggressive, persistent participant in Jan. 6.

“This is a day that is going to loom very large in American history.”  — Presidential historian Michael Beschloss, on MSNBC.

“Aides to former President Donald Trump were left speechless amid the first half of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony on Tuesday, acknowledging to CNN that her testimony was ‘a bombshell’ with potentially huge repercussions for Trump,” CNN reports.

Said on Trump adviser: “This is a bombshell. It’s stunning. It’s shocking. The story about ‘The Beast’ — I don’t have words. It’s just stunning.”

New York Times: “Current and former aides to Mr. Trump sent one another messages as the hearing took place, describing a series of disclosures that they conceded were potentially quite damaging, mostly politically but also, potentially, legally.”

Punchbowl News: “If you asked any Trump world insider who would be the least likely person to testify against the administration, Hutchinson would be atop that list. She was loyal to Trump to a fault – despite what Trump says now. Hutchinson was in every meeting with Meadows and was one of his top defenders.”

Playbook: “Trump allies will seek out any potentially disputable aspect of her testimony and use it to discredit her entirely. … The select committee has also staked a lot on Hutchinson’s credibility holding up — and there was lots of confidence from the panel after Tuesday’s hearing that she had delivered effectively.”

Former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney: “This is explosive stuff. … I know her. I don’t think she is lying.”

“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,” Axios reports.

“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.”

“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.”

Washington Post: “Secret Service agents dispute that Donald Trump assaulted any agent or tried to grab the steering wheel on Jan 6. They agree Trump was furious about not being able to go to the Capitol with his supporters. They offer to testify under oath.”

And CNN reports Ornato and Engel “are prepared to testify that neither incident occurred.” But then we get this Fox News report that backs up Hutchinson’s allegations:

These two SS agents are notorious Trump enablers and have lied for them in the past, so get them under oath.

“After Tuesday’s bombshell hearing investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell said he holds former President Donald Trump personally responsible for the injuries he sustained defending the Capitol,” the HuffPost reports.

Said Gonell: “Our own president set us up. I just feel betrayed. The president should be doing everything possible to help us and he didn’t do it. He wanted to lead the mob and wanted to lead the crowd himself … he wanted to be a tyrant.”

New York Times: “Former President Donald Trump has never been seen as the most stable occupant of the Oval Office by almost anyone other than himself, but the breathtaking testimony presented by his former aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, at Tuesday’s House select committee hearing portrayed an unhinged commander in chief veering wildly out of control as he desperately sought to cling to power and egged on armed supporters to help make it happen.”

“The president that emerged from her account was volatile, violent and vicious, single-minded in his quest to overturn an election he lost no matter what anyone told him, anxious to head to the Capitol to personally disrupt the constitutional process that would finalize his defeat, dismissive of warnings that his actions could lead to disaster and thoroughly unbothered by the prospect of sending to Congress a mob of supporters that he knew included people armed with deadly weapons.”

Washington Post: Trump had his own rampage as rioters assaulted Capitol.

NBC News: Trump’s years of violent rhetoric align with Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony.

The Atlantic: “When Trump arrived at a rally on January 6, he saw that the space for the speech was not totally full, Hutchinson testified today. Ever attentive to optics, he wanted the area filled, but many attendees were outside a cordon, because they weren’t allowed in: The Secret Service had set up magnetometers, or mags, and these people were carrying weapons. They didn’t want to disarm, and couldn’t enter while carrying. But Trump didn’t care.”

Said Trump: “They’re not here to hurt me… take the fucking mags away… They can march to the Capitol after this is over.”

“That is the most damning moment to emerge from the hearings so far. Trump’s supporters’ defense of the president’s behavior that day up until now has been that he simply wanted a peaceful demonstration, and didn’t anticipate the violence that broke out when his supporters stormed the Capitol. Some allies have denied that demonstrators were even armed. The defense has never been especially plausible, but Hutchinson’s testimony demolishes it.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “We’ve run out of words to describe the magnitude of the evidence unearthed by the House Jan. 6 committee, or the enormity of what former President Donald Trump was responsible for in the period between the 2020 election and when he left office. But Tuesday’s surprise hearing with star witness Cassidy Hutchinson, the close assistant to Mark Meadows, Trump’s final chief of staff, topped them all.”

Dan Balz: “Former president Donald Trump has had some bad days recently, but perhaps none worse than Tuesday, when former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson delivered the most alarming testimony yet about his behavior during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.”

“Her testimony before the House select committee’s Jan. 6 investigation probably left the former president more vulnerable legally, though ultimately that will be for the Department of Justice to decide. Equally important, it threatens to further weaken him politically, despite the hold he has retained on much of the Republican Party’s base…”

“Trump’s presidency and its aftermath — his actions in office and his perpetuation of the lie that the 2020 election was rife with fraud and therefore stolen — have left many Americans without the ability to be shocked or surprised, whether through fatigue or mere disinterest. In measured and careful language, Hutchinson punctured that indifference.”

“As the Justice Department expands its criminal investigation into the efforts to keep President Donald Trump in office after his 2020 election loss, the critical job of pulling together some of its disparate strands has been given to an aggressive, if little-known, federal prosecutor named Thomas Windom,” the New York Times reports.

Bret Stephens: “But after Tuesday, the threat of a legal indictment has become very real. The president may indeed be liable for seditious conspiracy, especially if he tried, via Meadows’s calls to Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, to reach out to extremist groups…”

“I doubt there will be any sort of moment when the Sean Hannitys and Laura Ingrahams of the world will tell the faithful: We were wrong; we made an idol of the wrong man. But there may be a quiet drifting away. In a moment like this, that might be just enough.”

Heather Cox Richardson: “What emerged from today’s explosive hearing was the story of a president and his close advisors who planned a coup, sent an armed mob to the Capitol, approved of calls to murder the vice president, and had to be forced to call the mob off. Two of the president’s closest advisors then asked for a presidential pardon.”

Robert Reich: “It was the most chilling depiction yet of a president in charge of an attempted coup. Trump knew exactly what was happening and what he was doing. He knew he was acting in violation of his oath of office and inciting violence in order to stay in office. He repeatedly refused to listen to reason, or to change course.”

“More than any other hearing to date, the audience for today’s hearing was not just the American public but also the Attorney General. Time and again, Hutchinson gave testimony about serious federal crimes.”

David French: “Before today, I’ve been open to the possibility that Donald Trump’s speech and conduct on and before January 6 criminally incited the mob. I was open, but unconvinced. I spoke to a number of leading First Amendment experts, and they were even less open than me. Yes, Trump urged the mob to ‘fight like hell’ and march on the Capitol, but he also said they should ‘peacefully and patriotically’ make their voices heard. That caveat was likely enough to spare him from prosecution.”

“That was yesterday’s analysis. Today’s is different. Because of a courageous woman named Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Mark Meadows.”

“Earlier this afternoon she gave the most extraordinary congressional testimony I’ve ever seen. She testified that the president was so committed to walking to the Capitol with his own supporters that he allegedly tried to grab the wheel of his Secret Service vehicle. She painted the picture of a president utterly out of control, a man so committed to preserving his own power that he approved of the riot and believed that Mike Pence deserved to face mob justice.”

Politico: How the Jan. 6 panel’s star witness drew a roadmap for Trump’s culpability?

David Frum: “The Republicans do not have to be the cover-up party. That’s a choice. In fact, the story of the hearings has been the courage and integrity of many individual Republicans, culminating most spectacularly with the heroic testimony of the former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. But as an institution, the party has to date made a pro-Trump cover-up its policy.”

“This policy of protecting the ex-president involves excusing the worst political crime in the history of the presidency—what looks more and more like a fully planned attempt to hold on to the highest office in the land, first by fraud, then by force. A coup d’état.”

“One of the things we’ve learned about his administration is that Donald Trump did not get much value from his true believers. They usually turned out to be too crazy, too crooked, or too stupid to gain and exercise power for him. He got most value from the weak and the supine who could wield some power more or less competently. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy is on record and on audio condemning Trump’s coup at the time that it happened. Since then, he has shriveled into the enabling role he has played over the past 18 months.”

Jonathan Chait: “The January 6 hearings have two basic functions. The first is to reveal, to the degree it is possible, as much as can be uncovered about Donald Trump’s efforts to negate the 2020 election result and remain in office. The second is to expose the allies who are, in one way or another, complicit in his crime. On both counts, the committee is delivering…”

“At this point, even with the hearings in progress, it seems safe to rate this as the greatest political scandal in American history. This is true when measured by its depth (the lengths the perpetrators were willing to go extended to the violent overthrow of the U.S. government) as well as its breadth (the guilty parties included elected officials, lawyers, foot soldiers, and, of course, the president of the United States).”

“It is all the more striking, then, that the Republican Party stance was, and is, that none of this should be investigated.”

“The Supreme Court on Wednesday narrowed the sweep of its landmark 2020 decision declaring that much of eastern Oklahoma falls within Indian reservation lands, allowing state authorities to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians on the reservations,” the New York Times reports.

“The ruling left in place the basic holding of the 2020 decision, McGirt v. Oklahoma, which said that Native Americans who commit crimes on the reservations, which include much of the city of Tulsa, cannot be prosecuted by state or local law enforcement and must instead face justice in tribal or federal courts.”

“The vote on Wednesday was 5 to 4, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was not on the court when the McGirt case was decided, casting the decisive vote.”

“Liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will officially retire on Thursday, paving the way for President Joe Biden’s appointee Ketanji Brown Jackson to be sworn in to the lifetime position to replace him,” Reuters reports.

Rudy Giuliani “has emerged as a central figure in a Georgia criminal investigation of efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn his election loss in the state, with prosecutors questioning witnesses last week before a special grand jury about Mr. Giuliani’s appearances before state legislative panels after the 2020 vote,“ the New York Times reports.

“For Mr. Giuliani, the developments are the latest in a widening swath of trouble.”

“A diplomatic dispute that had blocked Finland and Sweden from joining NATO was resolved on Tuesday, when the alliance’s secretary general announced that Turkey had agreed to lift its veto on the membership applications of the two Nordic countries following three hours of talks,” the New York Times reports.

“If Finland and Sweden join NATO, it would mark one of the most significant expansions of the alliance in decades at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has radically altered Europe’s security calculus. It also underscores how the war in Ukraine has undermined President Vladimir V. Putin’s aim of weakening NATO by pushing Sweden and Finland, which were neutral and nonaligned for decades, into the alliance’s arms.”

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated a congressional voting map in Louisiana that a federal judge had said diluted the power of Black voters,” the New York Times reports.  “The court’s three liberal members dissented.”

David Ignatius: “As President Biden heads toward potentially cataclysmic midterm elections, he has a last chance to show that he can make the machinery of Congress work to pass a big, bipartisan plan to bolster America’s dominance in technology.l

“The ‘America Competes Act’ is the catchy name for this pathbreaking $52 billion effort to supercharge the U.S. semiconductor industry and preserve America’s technological edge against China. But given the endless delays and political wrangling that have snarled this effort, it has actually been a demonstration, so far, of why America can’t compete: Our broken political system makes it nearly impossible.”

“The S&P 500 is on track for its worst first-half performance since 1970, down nearly 20% this year,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The U.S. will make its biggest military expansion in Europe in decades, including a permanent troop presence in Poland, as NATO prepares for two more members to join the alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi received communion during a papal mass — a notable break between the Vatican and the San Francisco archbishop who denied her the sacrament due to her stance on abortion, Politico reports.

“The FBI has opened a widening investigation into sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in New Orleans going back decades, a rare federal foray into such cases looking specifically at whether priests took children across state lines to molest them,” the AP reports.

“Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) reinvigorated her call for former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone to testify before the House Jan. 6 committee in the wake of damning testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson,” NBC News reports.

“Cheney, the panel’s vice chair, said Hutchinson’s remarks about Cipollone being concerned about former President Donald Trump’s plans on Jan. 6 shows it’s important to hear directly from him.”

“An attorney for Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, said Tuesday that he saw no reason for her to testify before the House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, adding he had ‘serious concerns’ about any potential interview,” the HuffPost reports.

“John Eastman, an architect of Donald Trump’s last-ditch bid to subvert the 2020 election, has dropped a lawsuit aimed at blocking the Jan. 6 select committee from obtaining his phone records,” Politico reports.

“In a late Tuesday filing, Eastman voluntarily dismissed the suit, claiming that he’d been assured the committee was only seeking his call logs — not the content of any messages held by his carrier, Verizon. The select committee has long contended that it lacks the authority to obtain message content.”

Former Trump White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tweets: “Cheney’s closing is stunning: they think they have evidence of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.”

“There is an old maxim: it’s never the crime, it’s always the coverup.”

“Things went very badly for the former President today. My guess is that it will get worse from here.”

Missouri state Rep. Tricia Derges (R) was convicted by a jury on 22 charges, including committing wire fraud, prescribing illegal medications, and lying to federal investigators, the Springfield News-Leader reports.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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