I resigned from the Trump administration on January 6, 2021. I did so because I believed President Donald Trump had failed to be the leader the nation needed at one of its most critical moments. But I have since defended him against allegations that he did anything illegal or criminal.
As for allegations that he instigated riots in the US Capitol, I noted that he has made similar speeches in the past (and has often been accused of fomenting violence) and that the results have been generally peaceful. I also pointed out that the right-wing extremists who appeared to be centrally involved in the attack were already in the Capitol before the president gave his speech.
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I wasn’t alone in defending the president against such allegations: Twice US Attorney General Bill Barr, who is no longer a Trump fan, said he did not believe the president’s actions that day rose to the level of a crime.
I don’t know if Barr is having a hard time maintaining that position after Tuesday’s January 6 committee hearing. But I certainly am. Because after some of the bombs that fell in that session, I think things might get very dark for the former president.
Lots of headline-worthy claims
The press will likely focus on the most sensational allegations: that Trump knew some of the protesters were carrying guns He encouraged them to go to the Capitol; that he physically assaulted a member of his security team when the agent refused to take Trump to the Capitol; That there may be a direct line of extremists to the White House, via Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and Mark Meadows; and that several Trump advisers, including Meadows, his chief of staff, have asked for pardons related to their role in the January 6 events.
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All of these things are noteworthy. Some of the allegations–encouraging protests despite knowing the weapons, assaulting a federal agent–may constitute crimes. The alleged association with extremist groups would put the White House dangerously close to people already accused of plotting to sedition. The simple fact that those around you were apparently worried that they were committing crimes is, while certainly not conclusive, not the best view.
But all of these allegations are turning against the credibility of the star witness at the “surprise” hearing: Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Mark Meadows and special assistant to the president. It was her testimony that shed light on all these new discoveries, and it was her testimony that turned so much attention to her.
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After Hutchinson’s testimony, Trump took it out a permit Suggesting that she was a disgruntled employee who requested it and was denied a position on the Trump team after the White House. If true, it could certainly raise issues regarding its credibility. It will be interesting to see if Meadows or others come forward to refute her allegations. (Aside: Hutchinson briefly worked with me in the White House. I don’t pretend to know her well, but I found her testimony very credible.)
The appendix that caught my eye
But there is another revelation from the hearing that does not overturn the credibility of the witness. He’s the one who jumped out of me. Which worries the former president the most.
These are the few slides that Commission Vice Chair Liz Cheney, Republican of Wu, presented at the end of the session. While details about them remain unknown, we are told that they were testimonies from other witnesses about communications they received prior to their testimony.
One slide read, “What they told me is, as long as I’m still a team player, they know I’m a member of the team, doing the right thing, and I’m protecting whoever I need to protect… I will continue to be in good graces in the Trump world. And they reminded me Several times that Trump has read the transcripts and just to take that into account as he follows through on my testimony and interviews with the committee.”
The implication was quite straightforward: members of the January 6 commission believed they had evidence that people inside the Trump operation had attempted to intimidate witnesses. And that, any way you cut it, is an obstruction of justice.
Trump may have committed crimes on January 6, 2021. He may not have done so. I think we may never know for sure – a congressional hearing is by no means a criminal court, after all – and for many people how they feel about his actions will continue to depend largely on how they vote.
But it may also be that none of that will matter. Even if Donald Trump was as innocent as the snow maiden on January 6, even if he wasn’t aware of the weapons, didn’t attack his agent, or had no idea what the proud boys were, if he obstructed justice related to the January 6 hearings, then he could He just becomes the next politician who learns the hard lesson that this is not usually the crime. It is covering up.
Mick Mulvaney served as the White House’s acting chief of staff from December 2018 until March 2020, when President Donald Trump named him special envoy for Northern Ireland and named Mark Meadows chief of staff. Mulvaney previously served as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and a Republican member of the House of Representatives. He is now the co-chair of Actum LLC.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mick Mulvaney: Cassidy Hutchinson cast real doubts about Trump’s innocence