The testimony of a former White House employee about Donald Trump’s role in the storming of the Capitol has it all. After that, the president at the time wanted to put himself at the head of the uprising. These allegations could lead to an indictment.
It was 25-year-old Cassidy Hutchinson who had the courage and heart to share her perspective on what happened at the White House when, on January 6, 2021, an angry mob stormed the Capitol building miles away. Hutchinson had started as an intern at government headquarters and, on that historic day, was the assistant to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, effectively the President’s closest associate. As one of the very few from Trump’s closest circle, she bluntly revealed internals to the investigative committee on January 6th – and thus raised a number of new questions.
What exactly did Donald Trump know about the people who stormed the Congress building and when did he know it?
It is still the crucial question that the committee of inquiry has to clarify. According to Cassidy Hutchinson, the then US President knew who was rehearsing the uprising on Capitol Hill – and he therefore wanted to be part of it. Hutchinson said Trump tried to order his Secret Service bodyguards to take him to the Capitol. “I’m the damn president,” he reportedly cursed. The head of state didn’t seem to have been impressed by the fact that the alleged putschists have guns either. On the contrary: “I don’t give a shit if they have guns – they are not here to hurt me.”
From the descriptions given by the assistant chief of staff, it can be concluded that the President was perfectly aware of what was happening in the Congress building. He is said to have even insisted on turning off the metal detectors so that his supporters could freely enter the building with their guns.
Was there any indication in advance that the planned protest by Trump supporters would end in violence and an attempted coup?
Even before Hutchinson testified, it was clear that the White House had intelligence information about planned acts of violence. She herself confirmed and substantiated that. She reports on a meeting between her boss Mark Meadows and Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on January 2, 2021. In it he apparently outlined the plan for the events four days later: “We’re going to the Capitol, the President will be there, it’s going to be great .” Meadows also asked her if she was excited about January 6th. In response to one of their inquiries, the chief of staff also said: “There’s a lot going on right now. It could get very bad on January 6th.”
Has anyone around the White House tried to stop the US President from attending the pro-Trump rally?
Yes, but… According to Hutchinson, the president’s legal adviser, Pat Cipollone, has warned of the drastic consequences of participating in the Capitol demonstration. “They will accuse us of all imaginable crimes if we support these protests,” the lawyer is said to have said on the morning of January 6. Later in the day, when it became apparent that the demonstration would turn into a riot, Cipollone marched into Mark Meadows’ office to urge him to speak to the President. “He won’t do anything about it, Pat,” the chief of staff reportedly replied. Cipollone then said, “Mark, something has to be done or people are going to die and their blood is going to be on your damn hands. It’s getting out of control.”
According to Cassidy Hutchinson, it was at least clear to the presidential legal adviser in which direction the protests would develop and what the consequences could be.
Is Donald Trump now threatened with indictment and if so, what could the consequences be for him?
Cassidy Hutchinson’s statements are initially allegations, which should, however, be investigated. Although a not inconsiderable number of former Trump confidants have not made any statements about the events, the amount of serious allegations against the ex-president is still immense. “There’s a good chance the Justice Department will indict Mr. Trump,” said Kevin O’Brien, a former New York City attorney. For weeks he spread the tale of electoral fraud, while at the same time harassing and intimidating election workers and representatives of the judicial authorities. He has called on his supporters to come to Washington on January 6 and has fueled the crowd to march to the Capitol. This could result in two charges: obstructing the counting of electoral votes and participating in a criminal conspiracy against the United States.
“Impeaching a previous president would be a first, and you need an aggressive prosecutor willing to take on a difficult and politically charged indictment,” said Neama Rahmani, a former US attorney in San Diego, California. And the columnist for the “Financial Times”, Edward Luce, makes less of a legal argument than a political one: “Failed prosecution could strengthen Trump and even help him get re-elected.”
Sources: DPA, AFP, Washington Post, Politico