Explosive testimony by former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson on Tuesday was put into historical perspective following hearings by the House Select Committee Investigating the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
"Former President Donald J. Trump has never been seen as the most stable occupant of the Oval Office by almost anyone other than himself, but the breathtaking testimony presented by his former aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, at Tuesday’s House select committee hearing portrayed an unhinged commander in chief veering wildly out of control as he desperately sought to cling to power and egged on armed supporters to help make it happen," New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker reported.
Former Nixon Presidential Library historian Tim Naftali said, "The Hutchinson testimony is a game changer and this is no game."
"Other presidents have exhibited erratic behavior behind the scenes, from Andrew Jackson to Lyndon B. Johnson. Richard M. Nixon threw an ashtray across the room upon learning of the Watergate break-in, and on another occasion was seen shoving his own press secretary. In the days of scandal that led up to his resignation, Nixon drank, talked to the paintings of past presidents and seemed so unstable that his defense secretary ordered generals not to carry out any orders he issued without checking with him or the secretary of state first," Baker reported. "Even so, it’s hard to imagine any other president accosting his own Secret Service agent, in a vain attempt to turn his vehicle toward the Capitol, so that he could march into the House chamber to object to his own election defeat."
Presidential historian Michael Beschloss noted a 1993 letter Trump wrote to Nixon, calling him a "great man" and saying "I am proud to know you."
\u201cTrump letter to Nixon, January 26, 1993:\n\u201cYou are a great man, and I have had and always will have the utmost respect and admiration for you. I am proud to know you."\u201d— Michael Beschloss (@Michael Beschloss) 1656460897
Baker interviewed Mark K. Updegrove, president of the L.B.J. Foundation, who told him, “Like almost everything else with Trump, this is utterly unprecedented."
So is the investigation, Naftali said.
"The January 6th Committee is now arguably doing the most historically significant investigative work by any Congressional Committee since the Senate Watergate Committee," he argued.
Baker also spoke with John Dean, who was convicted and disbarred for his role in Watergate as Nixon's White House counsel.
“Cassidy‘s testimony makes clear that Trump is prone to tantrums, like an undisciplined child,” Dean said. “I can’t tell from her testimony if they’re controlled or uncontrolled. I suspect at his age they’re controlled tantrums.”
Yale historian Joanne Freeman, the author of the 2018 book, The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War, focused on one key detail.
"People are focusing on the drama of DJT trying to grab the steering wheel to force his car to go to the Capitol. But far more revealing -- and alarming -- is the fact that he wanted to walk into the House with an armed mob," she explained. "Again: think COUP."
\u201c.@BeschlossDC on Nixon and Trump: "In later years he spent a lot of time, interestingly enough, with Donald Trump in New York City and on Trump's plane. Trump once wrote him, I think you're one of the great presidents of history." #TheReidOut\u201d— The ReidOut (@The ReidOut) 1656463627
\u201cKevin McCarthy crawled to the throne room eight days after Trump left office:\u201d— Michael Beschloss (@Michael Beschloss) 1656445903
\u201cThe altercation Cassidy Hutchinson described in the presidential vehicle wasn\u2019t the first time that Trump was angered about issues relating to the presidential election.\u201d— January 6th Committee (@January 6th Committee) 1656441193