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Tag: cassidy hutchinson

Trump Framing Meadows As Coup 'Fall Guy,' Say Former Aides And Attorneys

Dark days may be on the horizon for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, whom top figures in former President Trump’s inner circle believe could emerge as the fall guy for Trump’s erratic crusade to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and remain in power, according to a new report in Rolling Stone.

The bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2020, Capitol attack has been quietly probing Meadow’s financial dealings, Rolling Stone reports, adding another dimension to the mounting legal repercussions that the former North Carolina congressman could face for aiding the defeated former president’s attempt to subvert the will of the American people.

“Everyone is strategizing around the likelihood that Mark is in a lot of trouble,” said a Trump attorney, one of eight sources in Trump’s orbit who spoke to the magazine on the condition of anonymity.

Meadows is perceived as a double dealer by sone Trump world veterans, and angered his ex-colleagues and staff in the Trump White House for “putting their lives and health in danger when he oversaw a period of rapid coronavirus spread in Trump’s White House towards the end of the presidency.”

It was from Meadows' phone that the select committee obtained thousands of text messages that painted a revealing picture of Trump loyalists’ efforts behind the scenes to keep Trump, then a lame duck president, in power by any means necessary. The bombshell revelations turned the public spotlight on some prominent conservatives who supported, disseminated, and abetted Trump’s Big Lie.

Trump has distanced himself from Meadows, according to the report, and is seeking ways to insulate himself should the ex White House chief of staff face indictment for the events surrounding January 6. In recent weeks, Trump — staying true to his reputation for demanding but not extending loyalty — has reportedly told longtime associates that he “didn’t always know what Meadows was doing in the months leading up to the riot or his time after office.”

“Mark is gonna get pulverized…and it’s really sad,” said another attorney who presently counsels Trump, according to the magazine.

“Based on talking to [Meadows] he doesn’t actually believe any of this [election fraud] stuff, or at least not most of it. He was obviously just trying to perform for Trump, and now he’s maybe screwed himself completely,” the attorney added.

Last month, in a private deposition, a former Meadows aide in the Trump Administration, Cassidy Hutchison, informed congressional investigators about some of Meadows' actions before and during the insurrection, which raised questions about the ex-chief of staff’s liability for his conduct — from brushing aside credible intelligence reports that January 6 could turn violent to burning papers after meeting with a House Republican.

“I do think criminal prosecutions are possible,” Ty Cobb, a former attorney for the Trump White House, told Rolling Stone. “Possible for Trump and Meadows certainly.”

The select committee confirmed Wednesday that it is cooperating with the Justice Department. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the committee’s chairman, told reporters that the select committee had shared information with prosecutors "about who we interviewed and that kind of thing pursuant to what they requested," according to CBS News.

In January 6 Probe, Things Are Getting 'Real Bad' For Trump Gang

The stunning revelations from the last public session of the January 6 committee have not yet been fully analyzed. Side disputes concerning the details of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony — such as whether the former president assaulted a Secret Service agent on January 6 for refusing to drive him to the Capitol (though there is no doubt that he intended to go there) — have distracted from the emerging clues about Trump's coup plot.

First, it's critical to understand that the bizarre fracas alleged to have occurred inside the presidential vehicle was not merely an impulsive outburst by an enraged Donald Trump. His Secret Service detail's refusal to take him to the riot scene at the Capitol infuriated the president because that trip up the hill was part of an elaborate plan he and his gang were trying to execute. He had dispatched a huge mob he knew to be armed and angry to intimidate Pence from certifying the election of Joe Biden as president.

Whatever Trump aide and former Secret Service agent Anthony Ornato said to Hutchinson about the president's hissy fit was far less significant than what Rudy Giuliani told her four days before the riot.

"Are you excited?" the former New York mayor asked her, clearly excited himself. "The sixth is going to be a great day. We're going to the Capitol. The president's going to be there. He's going to look powerful. He's going to be with the members [of Congress], he's going to be with the senators. Talk to the chief about it" — meaning her boss, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — "he knows about it."

When Hutchinson mentioned her cryptic chat to Meadows, he said: "There's a lot going on, Cass. Things might get real, real bad on January 6."

Things got worse than "real bad," in part because Vice President Mike Pence was resisting the role set for him by coup strategist John Eastman, a conservative law professor recruited to develop a scheme to deny the constitutional process of accepting the rightful electors. Defending his constitutional responsibilities, Pence declined to accept their fake electors or to send the electoral count back to the states to be "fixed" by Republican state legislators.

And that led not only to demands for his summary lynching by Trump's supporters, but a gambit to remove him from his traditional role in the counting of electoral votes and replace him with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the president pro tempore of the Senate.

On January 5, the dim Grassley suddenly blurted a rather bald hint about what he anticipated the next day during the joint session of Congress where the electoral votes were to be tallied. "Well, first of all, I will be — if the vice president isn't there, and we don't expect him to be there, I will be presiding over the Senate." Recall here that the next day, Pence refused to get into a vehicle with Secret Service agents from his detail under the Capitol, as rioters roamed its hallways seeking to murder him, because he feared the agents might kidnap him to prevent the certification of Biden's victory.

What if they had? Without Pence present, Grassley could have carried out the Eastman scheme. His Senate staff quickly tried to whitewash that incriminating remark, but emails from Trump lawyers prove they wanted Grassley, not Pence, to oversee the count for precisely that reason.

It may not be mere coincidence that Grassley's top aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee was Barbara Ledeen, a notorious intriguer closely associated with Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas. Ginni Thomas is known to have expended great energy promoting the coup in communications with Meadows and others — and has recently reneged on an agreement to testify before the select committee. She no longer seems "eager" to answer questions under oath. Stonewalling is the Ginni Thomas defense.

At this point in the investigation many crucial aspects of the plot remain opaque, including the precise roles played by Roger Stone and Mike Flynn, who urged a new banana-republic style election under military control, and by the members of Congress who were prepared to toss out the votes of their constituents and install Trump as dictator. Both Stone and Flynn took the Fifth Amendment, Flynn infamously doing so when asked whether he supported the peaceful transition of power under the Constitution.

Meanwhile more witnesses have come forward, including former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who testified for eight hours without invoking the Fifth Amendment. There's a lot more information that we will soon know — and it's "real, real bad."

CNN Reports Secret Service Agents Confirm Hutchinson Testimony

Secret Service agents are coming forward to say that for months after the January 6 insurrection, they heard stories very similar to the account former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said she was told by a Trump loyalist and White House aide. The right-wing pro-Trump propaganda machine latched on to parts of her story in which she said she was told the outgoing president lunged at an agent, and “grabbed at” the steering wheel of the presidential limo, which on January 6 was an SUV.

Trump “angrily demanded to go to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and berated his protective detail when he didn’t get his way,” CNN reports, citing “two Secret Service sources who say they heard about the incident from multiple agents, including the driver of the presidential SUV where it occurred.”

That directly supports Hutchinson’s remarks before the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack in her surprise bombshell testimony last Tuesday. “The sources tell CNN that stories circulated about the incident,” CNN adds, “in the months immediately afterward the US Capitol attack and before she testified this week.”

CNN also reports that “one source, a longtime Secret Service employee, told CNN that the agents relaying the story described Trump as ‘demanding’ and that the former President said something similar to: ‘I’m the f**king President of the United States, you can’t tell me what to do.’ The source said he originally heard that kind of language was used shortly after the incident.”

Hutchinson had told the committee that a Trump aide, Anthony Ornato, had told her Trump got into the presidential limo, which was not “The Beast,” as right-wing propagandists are claiming, but an SUV, and said: “I’m the f-ing president! Take me up to the Capitol now!”

“The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel,” Hutchinson also told the committee, citing Ornato as her source. Referring to Secret Service Special Agent Robert Engel, she said, “Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going the Capitol.’”

“Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson then added. “When Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicle.”

Watch CNN’s report from Friday below or at this link:

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Yes, Cassidy Hutchinson Is A Hero

The House Select Committee reportedly decided to rush Cassidy Hutchinson's public testimony out of concern for her personal safety. They have good reason to worry. Consider what Brad Raffensperger, Rusty Bowers, Shaye Moss, Ruby Freeman and too many others to list have been subjected to. Rusty Bowers became a virtual prisoner in his home as his daughter lay dying.

Among the last things Bowers' daughter saw in this life was Trump crowds accusing her father of pedophilia — because he would not betray his oath by lying. Brad Raffensperger's family received specific threats like, "You and your family will be killed very slowly."

Ruby Freeman used to delight in wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with her nickname, "Lady Ruby," but she doesn't dare to wear it now. "I won't even introduce myself by my name anymore." She is afraid every day. "Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?" Freeman asked. Those words must have been reverberating in Hutchinson's ears as she contemplated her own path.

When Trump first crashed into American politics in 2015, it required only political courage to oppose him. Yet one after another, the leading figures of the GOP, from Chris Christie to Jeff Sessions to Ted Cruz, snapped like dry twigs under his boots.By 2020, it required more than political courage to stand up to Trump; it required physical courage. Rep. Adam Kinzinger has received death threats not just against himself, but against his wife and five month-old baby. Rep. Tom Rice, who voted in favor of Trump's second impeachment, received so many death threats that his chief of staff took to sending some directly to the police and reserving others for the congressman's perusal. (Rice recently lost his primary to a Trump loyalist). So many election workers have been threatened by Trump goons (850, according to Reuters) that three states are considering legislation to protect them.

This is the world that every Republican and conservative brought us by failing to show the minimal amount of integrity. Now they are shamed by the shining example of a 26-year-old woman with her life ahead of her, with no motive but love of country and no power except that which comes from a clear conscience.

There has been some tussling over a couple of details of Hutchinson's testimony. Two Secret Service officers reportedly claim that they want to contradict her SUV story under oath. We'll see. Anyone who viewed the presidential debate in 2020 cannot be shocked that Trump can be unhinged. Eric Herschmann says that a note Hutchinson testified to writing was actually written by him. Those are trivial matters compared with what is unrebutted.

It was clear before June 28 that Trump lifted not a finger to end the violence at the Capitol for many hours. Any normal, nonevil person, confronted with the fact that a mob of his supporters was committing violence at the Capitol, would have called them off. Trump did the opposite. He poured gasoline on the fire, tweeting that "Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution."

Now we learn from Hutchinson that when some of the non-zombified staff at the White House attempted to get Trump to do the most elementally decent act imaginable — to protect another human being, his own vice president — Trump said, "Mike Pence deserves it." Is it conceivable that Trump could have been so depraved? Yes. Months later, speaking to ABC's Jonathan Karl, Trump was asked about his supporters' chants of "Hang Mike Pence." He defended them. "Well, the people were very angry. Because ... it's common sense, that you're supposed to protect — How can you, if you know a vote is fraudulent, right — how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?"

And that, in turn, is consistent with Trump's comment on January 6 when a panicked Kevin McCarthy phoned to beg the president to call off his mob: "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are." Even in the past few months, Trump has been promising to pardon the rioters, should he be reelected. "We love you," he said on Jan. 6. He still does.

So it sure looks like Cassidy Hutchinson is describing the guy we know — the man who was fine with seeing his vice president murdered.

The most frightening thing we've learned over the past six years is just how indifferent the vast majority of the Republican Party is to the rule of law, the Constitution, basic decency and truth. But there have also been ordinary men and women who met the moment with grace and integrity. Their examples prove that the flame of liberty has not been extinguished. If this republic survives, Rep. Liz Cheney will be remembered as a heroine who ensured that it could. And Cassidy Hutchinson will deserve a place of honor for showing a party of cowards what courage looks like.

Mona Charen is policy editor of The Bulwark and host of the "Beg to Differ" podcast. Her most recent book is Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Mounting Evidence Shows Meadows' Role As Key Player In Coup Plot

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Trump Relished 'Hang Mike Pence' Chants -- And Told His Staff So

Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson delivered bombshell testimony to the House Select Committee on Tuesday afternoon, confirming in graphic detail that Donald Trump was glad to hear his supporters chanting “Hang Mike Pence” as they attacked the U.S. Capitol.


In a video recording of an earlier interview with the committee, Hutchinson was shown describing her boss, then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, discussing the “Hang Mike Pence” chants of the Capitol insurrectionists with then-White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

“I remember Pat saying something to the effect of, ‘Mark, we need to do something more, they’re literally calling for the vice president to be f’ing hung,’” Hutchinson said, “and Mark had responded something to the effect of, ‘You heard him, Pat, he thinks Mike deserves it, he doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.’ To which Pat said something, ‘This is f’ing crazy, we need to be doing something more.’”

Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney segued out of that video, saying, “Let me pause here on this point. As the rioters chanted ‘Hang Mike Pence,’ the president of the United States, Donald Trump, said that, quote, ‘Mike deserves it,’ and that those rioters were not doing anything wrong.”

Cheney went on to air a clip of a Trump interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, in which he responded to a question specifically about the “Hang Mike Pence” chants by saying:

“Because it’s—it’s common sense, Jon, it’s common sense, that you’re supposed to protect. How can you—if you know a vote is fraudulent, right—how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?”

Trump’s pivot away from the chant to his anger at Pence showed that, yes, he supported those chants. As did his 2:24 PM tweet on Jan. 6, next flagged by Cheney:

“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”

But while both of these earlier public statements from Trump told anyone who was willing to hear it what they needed to know about his response, there were still people out there—prominent people—giving Trump the benefit of the doubt on his response to “Hang Mike Pence.” Hutchinson’s testimony has to pull some of those people off the fence of denial.

Donald Trump didn’t think the mob violently attacking the U.S. Capitol was doing anything wrong, even when they expressed a desire to murder his own second-in-command, a man who had spent more than four years lavishly tongue-bathing him, because on this one thing Pence had reluctantly concluded he had to follow the law rather than Trump’s wishes. Hutchinson’s account of the conversation between Meadows and Cipollone shows how explicit Trump’s reaction was—it might have been thinly veiled when he talked to Karl, but it wasn’t when he talked to his top aides in the moment—and the degree to which everyone around him knew it.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.