Enemies of Donald Trump Go Into Hiding to Escape His Long-Armed Wrath
Over the weekend, news broke that star witness and former White House aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Cassidy
Over the weekend, news broke that star witness and former White House aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Cassidy Hutchinson, is in hiding.
After she delivered bombshell first-hand testimony to the House panel investigating January 6 live in front of the world, Hutchinson put her very life on the line to tell the truth – and now she's dealing with the wrath of former President Donald Trump. Or, more specifically, his supporters.
Is Trump culpable for the behavior of his supporters? Is his behavior egging them on to dangerous heights, convincing them that violence is acceptable against political opponents? That very question is at the heart of the House's panel on January 6 – but is academic for people like Hutchinson, living in fear of what the former president and his supporters may want to do out of retribution for her damning testimony.
Cassidy Hutchinson Needs Security
She sat before the House panel and cameras sharing the moment with the world and vowed to tell the truth about a dark day in American history.
Depending on your point of view, Cassidy Hutchinson is either a hero who risked all – a lifelong Republican heartbroken by what she saw as a betrayal of the country by those she believed in – or a traitor, spitting lies and spinning webs to catch her former employer in.
But the fact that she's been forced to adopt a security detail and hide with her family is perhaps more damning evidence of its own.
After all, the argument is that the actions of Trump incited his followers to violence – and that they then attempted to carry out his wishes, killing multiple people and storming the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
And that exact scenario may be playing out in miniature with Hutchinson – reinforcing the panel's assertion that the former president engaged in a pattern of behavior to incite and unleash violence against those he deemed enemies.
The public hearing with Hutchinson's testimony was never supposed to happen, but for a phone call received before she sat for her fourth deposition with the panel last month.
The New York Times writes, "On that day in June, [a] caller told Ms. Hutchinson, as Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chairwoman, later disclosed: A person 'let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal. And you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.'”
Alarmed by the attempt at witness tampering and intimidation, the panel rushed to get Hutchinson on the stand before the world – and then get her safely into hiding.
Other Witnesses – Clammed Up Out of Loyalty or Fear?
During the hearing Hutchinson shared alarming details about the former president's behavior on January 6, including the fact that he wanted metal detectors to be removed to allow more of his followers to attend his speech, the fact that he knew the crowd was armed before egging them on to march to the Capitol, and a series of alarmingly violent behaviors he displayed.
At the end of the hearing, Chairperson Liz Cheney shared with the world that they had received information from other witnesses who were also being threatened or intimidated into remaining loyal to the former president – and encouraged to speak positively about him or say nothing at all.
Cheney revealed that witnesses had been reminded that Trump does read transcripts and pay attention to those who stay loyal.
While the language in the messages sent to other potential bombshell witnesses is intentionally (legally) mild, it fits a pattern of behavior the panel is attempting to prove – that Trump uses intimidation to keep people loyal and stokes his followers to take action on his behalf.
The panel's ability to keep Hutchinson safe will be key to whether or not other hesitant witnesses are willing to put their safety on the line as well.
If they see Hutchinson's safety as too much at risk, there's a good chance that it will be difficult to convince them to speak up. If, however, Hutchinson continues to be warmly received by the country and stays safe – perhaps they will be willing to share what they experienced first hand.
White House lawyer Pat Cipollone already sat for a deposition for the first time after Hutchinson's hearing, signaling that other high-level dominoes may be ready to fall soon.