Since the House panel investigating the January 6 riots at the Capitol started airing earlier this month, people have been riveted. But friends of former President Donald Trump have treated it like "just another witch hunt" and scoffed at the panel's attempts to paint Trump as the instigator.
However, everything may have changed yesterday. A surprise hearing was called on Tuesday with a high-level star witness: Cassidy Hutchinson, the top aide of Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
And what she had to say may well forever change the loyalties of those closest to Trump - at least in public. Since the hearing aired, Trump's voice has been pretty alone crying into the void about phony, low-level leakers; where once there were dozens.
Better to be Silent
Normally, the day after a January 6 hearings would have headlines from Trump friends across the country denying, deflecting, and scoffing.
Today, those friends are nowhere to be found.
There's no biting sarcasm from Rudy Giuliani, and his home state host Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is silent - purposefully silent. Mick Mulvaney even said he believed Hutchinson, while other Republicans are focusing more on the irrelevance of the hearings than defending their once-golden child.
Because what Cassidy Hutchinson had to say was so damning that even those closest to Trump are having a hard time painting a pretty picture or brushing it off.
Hutchinson's first-hand testimony included:
- The fact that Trump threw his lunch plate against the wall when then-Attorney General Bill Bar told him that the election results were accurate.
- A report that when Trump was told he could not take the presidential motorcade to the Capitol, he lunged at the steering wheel to take control, then lunged at a Secret Service agent to try to grapple with him.
- The revelation that Trump knew that there were armed people in the crowd at his speech before he got on stage and encouraged them to march to the Capitol.
- White House lawyer Pat Cipollone warned Chief of Staff Meadows that if they went to the Capitol, they'd be convicted of "every crime" imaginable.
- Meadows brushed off concerns and when he was asked about Trump putting a stop to "hang Mike Pence" chants, Meadow responded, "[Trump] doesn't want to do anything" because he believed they were right.
It was an earth-shattering day that painted a picture of a president out of control and pushing for violence - a clearer picture than has been painted before.
Hitching themselves to that cart right now is clearly a bad prospect, so even those who have stood by the former President through the thick of it are finding it hard to speak up in his support today.
ABC News reports, "Ketchup on the wall and shattered dishes inside the White House, knowing about weapons in the crowd and seeming not to care, a grab for the steering wheel and a lunge at a Secret Service agent -- they are indelible images, as impactful and downright frightening as anything elicited to date by the House's Jan. 6 committee.
They stick because they contribute to a portrait of a former and still-perhaps-future president and, at least for now, a political party still largely in his thrall. The fact that the images are being left to linger, with no serious effort yet from Donald Trump's orbit to say the depictions are wholly fabricated or simply unimportant, is one measure of their potential meaning."
Perhaps what makes Hutchinson's evidence so hard to refute is that not only was it all first-hand, but she was willing to testify under oath; something her boss Meadows and other Trump loyalists have refused to do. That makes it seem like they have something to hide and gives her testimony more weight.
Also included in yesterday's hearing was the revelation that multiple witnesses have chosen not to speak to the panel because they're being pressured, threatened or intimidated by Trump or those in his orbit. The panel playing those cards proves that they know who those people are providing pressure - and intimidating witnesses is a crime. Right now, silence is the only recourse.
Primary Losses That Signal Worrying Signs
There are also some interesting rumblings in the primaries that took place yesterday, if you know where to look.
Across the country, Democrats have been engaging in an interesting war to monetarily back extremist Republican candidates in the hope that they would be easier to beat in the general election.
It didn't work in Colorado, where a far more moderate candidate took the Republican nomination - but it did work in Illinois. 12 Trump-backed candidates won, but they were all sitting incumbents. Others who have shown loyalty to Trump and espoused his election fraud rhetoric lost - people he chose not to back because their chances to win were smaller to begin with.
In New York, Rudy Giuliani's son Andrew Giuliani was defeated in a surprise upset that went to Republican nominee Lee Zeldin for NY Governor.
It's a murky picture of some wins and some losses - but it does paint a picture of a puppet master not as in control as he was just a few days ago. The next round of primaries will be more telling, as the bombshells from Hutchinson's testimony will have had some time to simmer.