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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.
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Violence against pro-choice protestors has been a widespread occurrence at pro-abortion demonstrations sweeping across the nation since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and tossed the issue of reproductive rights to the states.
As hundreds of thousands of Americans take to the streets to demand restoration of abortion rights, several violent incidents have sparked fears of broader attacks..
Arizona police fired teargas at protestors outside the state capitol and Los Angeles police were filmed throwing activists and members of the press to the ground at protests. Six people were arrested in South Carolina after protesters attempted to intervene when one was being arrested.
Ten protesters were arrested in Oregon after the police cracked down on a so-called “Night of Rage” supporting abortion rights.
In Cedar Rapids, Iowa the driver of a pickup truck drove into a crowd of abortion rights protestors, leaving one woman hospitalized. A Republican state senate candidate punched his female Democratic competitor in the face at a Providence, Rhode Island abortion rights demonstration. He subsequently was arrested and dropped out of the race.
Jennifer Rourke, the Democrat he assaulted, said, “This is what it is to be a Black woman running for office. I won't give up.”
Summer Of Discontent?
Los Angeles organizers from the group RiseUp4AbortionRights along with other activists have called for a “day of mass disruption. Supreme Court Justices, state capitol buildings, and leadership from both parties have also been the target of sustained protest and demands for action.
While the situation in some ways echoes the 2020 George Floyd protests that swept the nation to demand racial justice and an end to police brutality, thus far the scale of protest has remained smaller. Meanwhile law enforcement authorities have responded swiftly to protect public buildings and officials.
The National Guard set up a barricade around the Arizona state capitol; a large fence and snipers can be spotted at the Supreme Court; and police have reacted with force to protesters in other cities.
But there is no indication that protestors and organizers intend to give up. Said actor Jodie Sweetin, who made headlines for being slammed to the ground by police at an abortion rights protest in Los Angeles: “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”
How Far Will They Go?
Beyond the response to protests from local authorities, there are also fears of a violent reaction by militia groups and far-right individuals.
Several protests have seen clashes and scuffles between abortion rights activists and counter-protesters. The Rhode Island incident allegedly started as a disagreement between two demonstrators.
In 2020, Black Lives Matters protesters saw a violent reaction from far-right groups, which led to the incident where teenager Kyle Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two of them.
Thirty-one white nationalists were arrested after a concerned civilian tipped off authorities to their plans. The Patriot Front group was en route to a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, allegedly to instigate a riot with smoke grenades and shields.
The spike in white nationalist activity goes hand-in-hand with the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe, weaponizing the Christian faith to limit the rights of women. As to how far the Republican Party is willing to go, Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert told a crowd at a local church, “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church. I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.”
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