The House Jan. 6 Committee reportedly decided to rush Cassidy Hutchinson’s public testimony out of concern for her personal safety. They have good reason to worry. Consider what Brad Raffensperger, Rusty Bowers, Shaye Moss, Ruby Freeman and too many others to list have been subjected to. Rusty Bowers became a virtual prisoner in his home as his daughter lay dying.
Among the last things Bowers’ daughter saw in this life was Trump crowds accusing her father of pedophilia — because he would not betray his oath by lying. Brad Raffensperger’s family received specific threats like, “You and your family will be killed very slowly.”
Ruby Freeman used to delight in wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with her nickname, “Lady Ruby,” but she doesn’t dare to wear it now. “I won’t even introduce myself by my name anymore.” She is afraid every day. “Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?” Freeman asked. Those words must have been reverberating in Hutchinson’s ears as she contemplated her own path.
When Trump first crashed into American politics in 2015, it required only political courage to oppose him. Yet one after another, the leading figures of the GOP, from Chris Christie to Jeff Sessions to Ted Cruz, snapped like dry twigs under his boots.
By 2020, it required more than political courage to stand up to Trump; it required physical courage. Rep. Adam Kinzinger has received death threats not just against himself, but against his wife and 5-month-old baby. Rep. Tom Rice, who voted in favor of Trump’s second impeachment, received so many death threats that his chief of staff took to sending some directly to the police and reserving others for the congressman’s perusal. (Rice recently lost his primary to a Trump loyalist). So many election workers have been threatened by Trump goons (850, according to Reuters) that three states are considering legislation to protect them.
This is the world that every Republican and conservative brought us by failing to show the minimal amount of integrity. Now they are shamed by the shining example of a 26-year-old woman with her life ahead of her, with no motive but love of country and no power except that which comes from a clear conscience.
There has been some tussling over a couple of details of Hutchinson’s testimony. Two Secret Service officers reportedly claim that they want to contradict her SUV story under oath. We’ll see. Anyone who viewed the presidential debate in 2020 cannot be shocked that Trump can be unhinged. Eric Herschmann says that a note Hutchinson testified to writing was actually written by him. Those are trivial matters compared with what is unrebutted.
It was clear before June 28 that Trump lifted not a finger to end the violence at the Capitol for many hours. Any normal, nonevil person, confronted with the fact that a mob of his supporters was committing violence at the Capitol, would have called them off. Trump did the opposite. He poured gasoline on the fire, tweeting that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”
Now we learn from Hutchinson that when some of the nonzombified staff at the White House attempted to get Trump to do the most elementally decent act imaginable — to protect another human being, his own vice president — Trump said, “Mike Pence deserves it.” Is it conceivable that Trump could have been so depraved? Yes. Months later, speaking to Jonathan Karl, Trump was asked about his supporters’ chants of “Hang Mike Pence.” He defended them. “Well, the people were very angry. Because … it’s common sense, that you’re supposed to protect — How can you, if you know a vote is fraudulent, right — how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?”
And that, in turn, is consistent with Trump’s comment on Jan. 6 when a panicked Kevin McCarthy phoned to beg the president to call off his mob: “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” Even in the past few months, Trump has been promising to pardon the rioters, should he be reelected. “We love you,” he said on Jan. 6. He still does.
So it sure looks like Cassidy Hutchinson is describing the guy we know — the man who was fine with seeing his vice president murdered.
The most frightening thing we’ve learned over the past six years is just how indifferent the vast majority of the Republican Party is to the rule of law, the Constitution, basic decency and truth. But there have also been ordinary men and women who met the moment with grace and integrity. Their examples prove that the flame of liberty has not been extinguished. If this republic survives, Rep. Liz Cheney will be remembered as a heroine who ensured that it could. And Cassidy Hutchinson will deserve a place of honor for showing a party of cowards what courage looks like.