In an effort to clarify whether Cassidy Hutchinson, a 25-year-old former intern could possibly been a witness to what was going on at the White House in the day up to and during the January 6 insurrection when supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, the Washington Post's Dan Zak spoke with former top aides who filled similar positions in previous administrations.
Each one, while not attesting to her truthfulness, claimed she would have indeed been a "fly on the wall" listening and watching the behind-the-scenes machinations in any White House.
In some of the most explosive testimony from the hearings so far, Hutchinson said Trump and some of his top lieutenants were aware of the possibility of violence ahead of the attack -- contradicting claims that the assault was spontaneous and had nothing to do with the administration.
Noting that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) called Hutchinson a "senior" aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, the former administration officials asserted she would have been right in the middle of the center of power.
Writing, "The aide’s responsibilities can be vast or pinpoint, consequential or quotidian. But even at a lower rank, even with modest experience, an aide has a source of formidable power: proximity. The aide sees and hears and knows, because they are, simply, around," Zak added, "On Jan. 6, 2021, while working for White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Hutchinson was surrounded by unfolding drama as the West Wing reacted to the insurrection. She was just around the corner from — or in earshot of, or behind the scenes with — the major players."
While Trump has variously described Hutchinson as a non-entity he had no memory of, and then as a "Social Climber" who "...lied about my attack on our great Secret Service, lied about her writing the White House note, lied about my throwing food at a wall in the Oval Office," other former Trump officials such as Alyssa Farah Griffin said the young woman was in the thick of things around Jan 6th and should be believed.
According to Eli Attie, who previously wrote speeches for former Vice President Al Gore, "When I worked in the White House, I was always told: ‘If you really want to know what’s going on, talk to the assistant,'" before adding, "They’re the ones listening to all the calls, talking to other assistants. They know who’s delisted from various meetings. They know the private rantings of their bosses. They hear the stompings of the president. In a town and culture where proximity is power, the aides have the proximity.”
Jennifer Palmieri, who served in Hutchinson's position in the Bill Clinton administration, agreed.
“That corner of the West Wing, with the chief and the chief’s aides and the deputies: It really does run things, she explained before stating, “I do think people would be shocked at the proximity of all these things. You’d definitely hear plates smashing against the dining room of the Oval Office.”
Sean Sweeney, who worked as an aide to Rahm Emanual when he served as Barak Obama's chief of staff contributed, "They can try to dismiss her as a low-level person or a young person, but that’s not how it works. If that’s where she sat and that’s the job she had, then she certainly knows what went on.”
With another Trump aide admitting, "She was definitely very omnipresent," Zak wrote, "Sometimes aides — because of luck, timing and proximity — make or witness history," with former White House insider Matt Bennett, adding, "She had enormous access. It’s a power that is very tough to use outside of very, very rare circumstances.”
Hutchinson has already been the source of several blockbuster revelations, appearing in videotaped depositions at two previous hearings and memorably naming a group of House Republicans who sought pardons from Trump following the violence.
She was also in contact with officials in the battleground state of Georgia, where Trump infamously pressured officials to "find" enough votes to overcome Biden's victory margin in a phone call that is the subject of a criminal probe.
It was Hutchinson, according to CNN, who told the select committee that Trump voiced approval for the "hang Mike Pence" chants from rioters at the Capitol -- an allegation that was among the many eye-popping claims to come out of the opening hearing on June 9.
Meadows himself has refused to testify before the panel since handing over thousands of text messages and other documents in the early stages of the investigation.
With additional reporting by AFP