Donald Trump's allies have kicked into gear after devastating testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, but they're having trouble gaining traction.
The aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told the House select committee that Trump knew his supporters were armed on Jan. 6, 2021, and still directed them toward the U.S. Capitol, but the former president's allies have seized on a second-hand account about his behavior in the presidential limo to discredit her, reported the Washington Post.
"They are claiming Hutchinson’s appearance was a flop, based on the fact that a single anecdote about Trump — one barely related to the central allegations against him — is now being questioned by a handful of bit players in this saga who aren’t even offering this pushback publicly, let alone under oath," wrote Post columnist Greg Sargent. "In addition to providing an object lesson in how pro-Trump propaganda functions, this buffoonery reveals just how weak Trump’s defenses have become. The pushback is shriveling into meaningless trivialities even as the enormity of this scandal grows overwhelming."
The Secret Service says it will respond to claims made in Hutchinson's testimony, and anonymous sources claim agent Robert Engel and White House staffer Tony Ornato will testify that Trump did not lunge for the wheel in his presidential SUV, and apologists such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) insist others inside the vehicle should testify publicly.
"By all means, let’s do that," Sargent wrote. "Ornato, Engel and the driver absolutely should testify under oath on live television."
"Here’s why this pushback is so preposterously weak," he added. "First, Hutchinson was not relating her firsthand experience of that episode. As Hutchinson recounted, she, Ornato and Engel were outside Meadows’s office after this episode, and Ornato described it to her. Asked whether Engel disputed this account at the time Ornato delivered it, Hutchinson said Engel did not."
Ornato and Engel have already testified to the House select committee behind closed doors, but they haven't come forward publicly to dispute Hutchinson's claims -- and Sargent said that gives away the game Trump allies are playing.
"When Greene insists she wants them to testify on live TV, the aim is not to make that actually happen," he wrote. "The real game is to project manufactured confidence that if it did, somehow truths being suppressed by Trump’s enemies would suddenly come to light, to inject a fog of uncertainty into mainstream media coverage."
"But the revelations have been so overwhelming that the usual scams just aren’t working," Sargent added.
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