The anti-anti-Trumpers won.
It is telling that a 26-year-old staffer had to courage to testify under oath to the facts that many Republicans in Congress must have known before yesterday:
That the president knew the crowd he had assembled on January 6th was armed.
That the president believed this crowd intended to hurt people who were not him.
That the president did not care about this danger to others.
That in possession of this knowledge he still instructed the crowd to march on the Capitol with the words: “We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Those are the key facts. Forget the ketchup dripping down the wall and whether Trump touched a Secret Service agent or merely berated him. The most significant revelation was Trump requesting the removal of magnetometers after being told that many of his supporters were armed.
One of the maddening aspects of the current moment is that the two arguments most often deployed against the House January 6th Committee are:
This is a partisan operation.
How can you rely on the testimony of some random staffer who might be lying?
I say “maddening” because none of us wanted a congressional committee investigating Jan. 6th.
You will recall that this committee was formed as a fallback option after Republicans prevented the creation of a nonpartisan, independent commission. We—and by “we” I mean “everyone concerned about democracy”—wanted a fully independent, nonpartisan commission to do the investigating. Republicans killed this commission. And now they complain about the committee being partisan and not independent. The gall.
As for relying on the testimony of someone like Cassidy Hutchinson, I agree that this is suboptimal. I don’t know anything about Hutchinson. I don’t know how credible she is or isn’t. I’m not prepared to accept everything she says as Gospel.
But the committee has tried, over and over, to get the high-ranking principals with firsthand knowledge to testify—and many of them keep refusing.
You don’t want to take Hutchinson’s word for what Kevin McCarthy said to her on the phone? Well, McCarthy refuses to testify.
You don’t want to trust Hutchinson’s account of what Mark Meadows did that day? Meadows refuses to testify.
You think Trump didn’t say what Hutchinson recalls him saying? He should testify. So should the Secret Service agents whom Hutchinson claimed to have informed Trump that many members of his mob were armed.
If getting the rock-bottom account of the truth were important to the anti-anti-Trump universe, then they’d demand that all of these figures go under oath.
Instead, most of them yell about how this or that detail isn’t fully substantiated. Or how the committee’s credibility is in danger unless every word of Hutchinson’s testimony is precisely true and complete.
This is the same pattern we’ve seen throughout the Trump years: The arsonist sets a fire and then his defenders complain that the fire department isn’t absolutely, letter-perfect in its response.
They brought two pumper trucks when they should have had a hook-and-ladder truck, too! How can you trust these firefighters! They’re the worst!
Do you want to see how hard these people have to work in order to get through the day? Here’s the sainted Andy McCarthy clearing his throat to prove his Conservatism Inc. bona fides:
The day’s lone witness pulled back the curtain that countless advisers and aides kept around the mercurial Trump for four years. There are significant questions about aspects of her account, particularly where it involved hearsay — things she had been told about the president’s actions, as opposed to the things she herself witnessed. We also have to reserve judgment, even allowing that she seems impressive, because the highly partisan, unapologetically anti-Trump committee merely presents its side of the story, and has gone to unseemly lengths to exclude cross-examination and alternative perspectives.
You could drown in this lake of euphemisms. The “curtain” that kept anyone from knowing what Trump was really like! Trump is “mercurial”—like so many great artistic geniuses! The committee is “unapologetically” anti-Trump—despite having as its vice chair a woman who voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020 and who voted with him in Congress 92.9 percent of the time. The committee is “unseemly” in its failure to present “alternative perspectives.”
Later in the piece it gets worse. McCarthy says that “the January 6 committee has foolishly undermined its credibility by failing to provide a fair process” and that Trump’s attacks on Hutchinson as she testified were merely “characteristically indecorous.”
But what’s really crazy is that McCarthy goes to all of these contortions in an essay in which he is trying to condemn Trump for having done very, very bad things.