What Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony means for criminal prosecution of Donald Trump: report
Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 28, 2022. (STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP)

Former White House senior aide Cassidy Hutchinson revealed some new information to the House Select Committee investigating the attack on Congress and the attempt to overthrow the election.

One question being asked by the New York Times, however, is whether the information she gave was enough to aid in a potential criminal prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

Among the things she told the committee was that as Trump went onstage Jan. 6 to speak to the rally crowd he knew that there were people in the audience with weapons, including guns. Instead of trying to deescalate the crowd, she said that he wanted the supporters brought closer and allowed in even if they had weapons that wouldn't normally make it through metal detectors.

"Legal experts said the testimony provided more evidence to support a possible criminal prosecution, as it suggested that Mr. Trump was aware of the potential for violence but went on to urge his supporters to head to the Capitol," wrote the Times analysis.

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Trump then called on the crowd to "fight like hell" and told them that he would lead them to the Capitol in a powerful march.

"And after this, we're going to walk down, and I'll be there with you, we're going to walk down, we're going to walk down," he said, repeating the phrase. "Anyone you want, but I think right here, we're going to walk down to the Capitol, and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated, lawfully slated."

The Times pointed out that the Justice Department said that it doesn't have an explicit investigation focusing on Trump. There is, however, evidence that the DOJ is moving swiftly on the fake electors' scandal. Meanwhile, Trump legal adviser John Eastman was raided by federal agents, including FBI agents, who took his phone to turn it over to the Justice Department Inspector General. That is an indication that there's an internal investigation happening over the role some lawyers like Jeffrey Clark played in the attempt to overthrow the election.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has captured many of those who came after Congress on Jan. 6 and interviews with them reveal that they're placing the blame squarely on Donald Trump. Some said that Trump called them to Washington and to the Capitol for Jan. 6.

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"Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony could place Mr. Trump into a conspiratorial relationship with members of the mob, lawyers said, suggesting that he pushed them into action even though he was aware that they presented an immediate threat," wrote the Times.

Hugo Lowell, reporter for The Guardian, explained that Hutchinson's comments "marked a new degree of apparent consciousness of guilt among Trump’s closest advisers – in addition to that of at least half a dozen Republican congressmen and the Trump lawyer John Eastman – or fear that they might have committed a crime.

He went on to explain that "in raising Giuliani’s interest in a pardon, Hutchinson also testified that Trump’s former attorney may have also been central to a crime with respect to his seeming knowledge of what the far-right Oath Keepers and Proud Boys groups were planning for January 6."

The idea that the White House knew about the involvement of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys "raised the spectre that the former president's then-attorney [Giuliani] was broadly aware of the intentions of two far-right groups." Many of the groups' members have since been arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy.

Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe urged the DOJ to be forthcoming about its intentions to dodge the implications of politicization.

Founder and executive director of Protect Democracy Ian Bassin noted that the idea of attempting to intimidate witnesses is a potential criminal offense for Trump. If the people relaying the message to Hutchinson and the other witness are investigated for being part of that it's unclear if they will implicate the president.

Sol Wisenberg, a former deputy to special counsel Ken Starr, told the Times that it's clear Trump has criminal culpability.

Read the other questions that the Times said Hutchinson raised with her testimony.


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