Posts tagged with "Politico"

‘Decisions are imminent’: Georgia prosecutor nears charging decisions in Trump probe

January 26, 2023

The Atlanta-area district attorney investigating Donald Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election indicated on Tuesday, January 24,  that decisions on whether to seek the indictment of the former president or his associates were “imminent,” reports Politico.

“Decisions are imminent,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said during a Tuesday court hearing called by the Georgia trial court judge overseeing the “special purpose grand jury” that Willis has used to gather evidence over the last year.

Willis’ remark came as she urged the superior court judge, Robert McBurney, to oppose calls to publicly release the findings of her yearlong probe, which she conducted alongside the special grand jury to examine Trump and his inner circle.

Willis has spent the last year investigating Trump’s and his allies’ effort to reverse the election results in Georgia, despite losing the state by more than 11,000 votes.

The special grand jury probed Trump’s January 2 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—asking him to “find” just enough votes to put him ahead of Joe Biden in the state.

And it pursued evidence about Trump’s broader national effort to subvert the election, calling top allies like his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Attorney John Eastman, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

The special grand jury concluded its investigation earlier this month, dissolving in early January, and recommended that its findings be released publicly. McBurney then called for a hearing to discuss whether to follow the panel’s recommendation or maintain the secrecy of the report. Willis told the judge that making the report public could jeopardize impending prosecutions.

“In this case, the state understands the media’s inquiry and the world’s interest. But we have to be mindful of protecting future defendants’ rights,” Willis said, emphasizing that multiple people could face charges.

Tuesday’s discussion was the result of Georgia’s unusual grand jury law, which permits prosecutors to impanel a “special purpose grand jury” that has no power to make formal indictments but can help prosecutors gather evidence about a specific topic. If Willis opts to pursue charges against Trump or others, she needs to present her evidence to a traditional grand jury, which could then issue indictments.

Thomas Clyde, an attorney representing several media outlets supporting the release of the report, urged McBurney to side with the grand jurors rather than Willis.

“We believe the report should be released now and in its entirety,” Clyde said.

He noted that findings in criminal investigations are often released publicly even while investigations and grand jury proceedings continue.

McBurney noted that Willis’ probe has been accompanied by an extraordinary release of information and evidence by the House January 6 select committee and from witnesses being called before a federal grand jury probing the same matters, none of which had derailed Willis’ probe. He also noted that there was little to stop individual grand jurors from simply telling others about the findings in their report.

But McBurney said he wanted more time to consider the arguments and said any ruling he made would provide significant advance notice before the potential release of the report.

Research contact: @politico

Yellen says America has hit debt limit, triggering ‘extraordinary measures’

January 20, 2023

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday, January 18, that the United States has begun using “extraordinary measures” to pay its bills after the government reached its $31.4 trillion borrowing limit, reports Politico.

Yellen told lawmakers in a letter that the period of time the extraordinary measures may last is “subject to considerable uncertainty” because of the challenges in forecasting the money moving in and out of the government in the future.

The move, which Yellen warned lawmakers about last Friday, marks a key next step in the political stalemate between House Republicans and the Biden Administration over increasing the debt limit and avoiding a U.S. financial default. Conservatives want a deal that includes spending cuts, but the White House says meeting the country’s obligations should be non-negotiable.

“I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” Yellen wrote on Thursday.

Treasury expects its remaining cash and extraordinary measures—in this case, suspending investments in government retirement funds—will buy time through at least early June.

“With extraordinary measures now in effect, the debt ceiling is officially a ticking time bomb we can’t [defuse] soon enough,” said Representative Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

If the stalemate continues as expected, Washington and Wall Street in the coming months will try to game out the deadline for a dealthe so-called X date—when America will be unable to meet all its financial obligations.

That threshold carries unknown risks. A failure to pay Treasury bond holders would rattle financial markets. Missed payments for other government programs like Social Security and military salaries could also wreak economic havoc.

The Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank that issues X date projections, believes the deadline could hit roughly around the middle of the year.

“Recession concerns are already elevated, and the possibility of a major debt ceiling debacle adds another clear risk to the outlook,” Wells Fargo economist Mike Pugliese said in a report Thursday.

Research contact: @politico

United States, Canada, Mexico slam Brazil unrest amid questions on Bolsonaro’s Florida stay

January 10, 2023

On Monday, January 9, President Joe Biden and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts denounced the weekend storming of Brazil’s government institutions—pledging to support the recently elected leader of the country, whose predecessor has fueled doubts about his legitimacy, reports Politico.

The statement from the three men came as they attended the North American Leaders’ Summit and as Democrats called for the former Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, to get kicked out of the United States. Bolsonaro is reported to have been staying in Florida after he skipped the inauguration of his recent successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, widely known as Lula.

Unwilling to accept his defeat, Bolsonaro supporters on Sunday stormed Brazil’s presidential, congressional, and Supreme Court buildings. The events echoed the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump—a supporter of Bolsonaro. Like Trump, Bolsonaro has a strongman style and sought to sow doubts about the election which he lost.

Monday’s statement from Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was short and terse, but it put the countries’ full support behind Lula.

“We stand with Brazil as it safeguards its democratic institutions. Our governments support the free will of the people of Brazil. We look forward to working with President Lula on delivering for our countries, the Western Hemisphere, and beyond,” the three leaders said.

Numerous Democratic lawmakers have spoken out against the Brazilian attacks since Sunday, while Republicans, possibly due to concerns about avoiding Trump’s ire, were largely quiet as of Monday morning.

Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas, was among the lawmakers who said the United States needs to kick Bolsonaro out of Florida and back to Brazil, where the former president is under investigation on a number of allegations.

“Bolsonaro must not be given refuge in Florida, where he’s been hiding from accountability for his crimes,” Castro tweeted.

The State Department declined to comment on the type of visa the former Brazilian leader used to enter the United States—saying such records are confidential. But the United States generally has broad leeway to revoke visas.

Since losing office, Bolsonaro has sent mixed signals about his views on what his supporters should do to back his claims of a rigged election. It’s not clear what precisely sparked the attacks on Sunday.

But the former president on Sunday did tweet out a careful condemnation that also dinged his political foes: “Peaceful demonstrations, in the form of the law, are part of democracy. However, depredations and invasions of public buildings as occurred today, as well as those practiced by the left in 2013 and 2017, escape the rule.”

Bolsonaro’s son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, has close ties with Trump-aligned conservative figures in the United States, such as Steve Bannon and Jason Miller, and has been in contact with them since the October presidential election.

On his “War Room” podcast on Monday, Bannon claimed the Bolsonaros have not been involved in the unrest in Brazil; and he mocked allegations that he, himself, orchestrated the assaults. But he has been supportive of the protesters’ efforts.

On Sunday, January 8, Bannon called the protesters “Brazilian freedom fighters.” And he has continued to allege corruption and fraud in Brazil’s election—and on Monday called for Lula to “open up the machines.”

Research contact: @politico

Hutchinson reveals that Meadows burned documents during transition

December 29, 2022

Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson revealed that Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, burned documents in his fireplace roughly a dozen times in the final weeks of the Administration, according to newly released transcripts of her House January 6 select committee depositions, reports The Hill.

FHutchinson, who became a star witness during the panel’s public hearings, told the committee on May 17 that she saw Meadows burn documents once they lit his office fireplace in December 2020.

“The Presidential Records Act only asks that you keep the original copy of a document. So, yes,” Hutchinson said when asked if she saw Meadows use the fireplace to burn documents, adding, “However, I don’t know if they were the first or original copies of anything,” she continued. “It’s entirely possible that he had put things in his fireplace that he also would have put into a burn bag that there were duplicates of or that there was an electronic copy of.”

Politico and The New York Times had previously reported on the testimony. “I want to say once a week or twice—it’s —I can recall specific times that I did,” Hutchinson said. “Maybe a dozen, maybe just over a dozen, but this is over a period December through mid-January too, which is when we started lighting the fireplace.”

Hutchinson suggested that at least two of the occasions took place after Meadows met with Representative Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) about election issues.

The House committee has said Perry was “directly involved” in efforts to make Jeffrey Clark the attorney general in order to create a Justice Department aligned with former President Trump’s unfounded claims of mass electoral fraud.

“I know maybe three or four times—between two and four times, he had Mr. Perry in his office right before,” Hutchinson told the committee, although she cautioned that she did not know what documents were burned.

The Hill has reached out to an attorney for Meadows for comment.

Research contact: @thehill

Republicans shrug off Trump ’24 bid: ‘The excitement’s just not there’

November 29, 2022

The former president is not bending the GOP to his will the way he used to. Donald Trump’s lackluster campaign announcement on November 15 was one thing. His real problem is fast becoming the collective shrug Republicans have given him in the week-plus since, reports Politico.

Far from freezing out potential competitors, Trump’s announcement was followed by a slew of potential 2024 contenders appearing at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas over the weekend, where at least one Republican who previously had said she would defer to Trump if he ranformer U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley—now said she is considering running in a “serious way.”

A super PAC supporting Trump’s chief rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, plans to begin airing TV ads in Iowa on Friday, December 2. And even the news that Elon Musk was lifting Trump’s ban on Twitter wasn’t breaking through.

The morning after the former president’s account was reinstated—a development once viewed as a significant lift to Trump’s candidacy—Fox News Sunday spent more time talking about the ticketing debacle surrounding Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour.

“The people talking about [Trump’s campaign announcement] in my circles, it’s almost like it didn’t happen,” said Bob Vander Plaats, the evangelical leader in Iowa who is influential in primary politics in the first-in-the-nation caucus state and who was a national co-chair of Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign in 2016. Donald“That, to me, is what is telling, where people believe we probably need to move forward; not look in the rear view mirror.”

Ever since he steamrolled through the 2016 presidential primary, and even after his defeat four years later, Trump had bent the GOP to his will—reshaping the party’s infrastructure in Washington, D.C., and the states to serve his interests, tearing down Republican dynasties, and hand-picking congressional and statewide nominees.Se

Now, leading Republicans are no longer cowering before Trump, and for the first time since he rode down the escalator in 2015, many aren’t listening to him at all. They are dodging questions about Trump’s candidacy, or openly defying him by rallying around DeSantis—even though the Florida governor is not yet, as Senator Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming declared, the “leader of the Republican Party.

“There’s a significant number of people out there who really are opposed to him, and I don’t think will change their minds over the course of the next two years,” said Tom Tancredo, a former Republican congressman and anti-illegal immigration crusader from Colorado who called Trump “one of the best presidents we’ve ever had.”

He added, “You can’t deny that that’s a problem for him … I’m worried about his electability, surely.”

However, Trump may still be the frontrunner to win the GOP nomination. In a Politico/Morning Consult poll this week, Trump was still running 15 percentage points ahead of DeSantis among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents. If a wide field of more traditionalist Republicans split the primary vote in early nominating states, as they did in 2016, Trump could still cut through his competitors with less-than-majority support.

“His unique selling point is, ‘I did this, I fixed the economy, I gave you the Abraham Accords, I kept peace, I fixed the border with no help from the Washington politicians,’” said one Republican strategist close to Trump.

Trump’s path, the strategist said, is to remind Republicans what they liked about his presidency, and to emphasize that, unlike his competitors, he has “done it before.”

What Trump also has done, however, is lose—and drag the GOP down with him. Following a midterm election in which Republicans failed to retake the Senate, the GOP is desperate for a win in 2024. And while presidential primaries are always colored to some degree by concerns about electability, the earliest stages of the 2024 contest, as one longtime GOP operative in Iowa put it, are “just about winning.”

Research contact: @politico

With climate deal in sight, Democratic hopes hinge on Sinema

August 5, 2022

Now that Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is on board, Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has emerged as the final holdout on her party’s domestic agenda. So far, she’s staying characteristically silent, reports The New York Times.

Sinema—an inscrutable lawmaker who has shown a willingness to buck her party, according to the Times—has replaced Manchin as the most prominent and speculated-upon holdout on his party’s major climate, energy and tax package.

On Tuesday, August 2, he approached her on the Senate floor with a hushed entreaty. The results are still unknown.  “She’ll make a decision based on the facts,” Manchin told reporters later, calling it “a good talk.”

While Senator Manchin has embraced the public scrutiny and attention that comes with being a swing vote in the evenly divided Senate, Senator Sinema has remained a tight-lipped enigma. Passage of the Democrats’ major domestic policy initiative, negotiated by Manchin and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, now hinges on whether she is willing to support it.

So far, Senator Sinema won’t say—putting her colleagues in a perilous position as they rush to move the package forward as early as this week and toil to unite all 50 members of their caucus behind it. Republicans are expected to unanimously oppose the plan, which includes hundreds of billions of dollars in energy and climate proposals, tax increases, extended health care subsidies and a plan aimed at lowering prescription drug prices—meaning Democrats cannot spare a single vote if all Republicans are present.

Party leaders also will have to maneuver the bill through a series of rapid-fire amendments that could pass if any Democrat joins Republicans in support. With Manchin enthusiastically embarking on a media tour to celebrate the measure, fears of failure were now being fueled by Sinema’s characteristic silence.

A spokesperson for Sinema has said that the senator continues to review the legislation and wait for guidance from top Senate rules officials, who are analyzing whether it meets the strict rules that apply under the budget reconciliation process. Democrats are using the reconciliation process to shield the legislation from a filibuster and speed it through Congress.

Top Democrats on Wednesday were quietly weighing what potential changes to the bill, particularly to its tax provisions, might be needed to win Sinema’s support, as the Arizona senator was preparing her own wish list.

While she voted for the initial $3.5 trillion budget blueprint that allowed Democrats to begin work on the legislation, Sinema has not offered explicit support for many pieces of the current package, most notably much of the tax increases included to pay for it.

Doubt about Sinema’s support has centered on her past opposition to a proposal aimed at limiting the carried interest preferential tax treatment for income earned by venture capitalists and private equity firms. A similar proposal was among the tax changes that Manchin and Schumer included in their deal.

Manchin and other Democrats have said the provision would ensure fairness in the nation’s tax code. But Sinema, who resisted many of the tax rate increases her colleagues had pushed for, has privately signaled she wants the carried interest measure removed.

She also is pushing to add funds for drought resiliency, given that her state has struggled with devastating water shortages, according to officials briefed on the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose sensitive negotiations.

Politico first reported the request from Sinema, whose state is currently in its 27th consecutive year of drought, according to the state’s climate office.

Sinema, like most of her colleagues, was blindsided by news of the deal between Manchin and Schumer and its details. Manchin has said that he intentionally did not confide in or consult other Democrats during final negotiations to salvage the climate and tax proposals because, he told reporters on Monday, “I wasn’t ever sure that we would get to a finale, to get a completed bill.”

It was unclear whether Democrats would be willing to strike the tax break for wealthy executives altogether to win over Sinema. Estimates suggest it would raise about $14 billion, a small portion of the $740 billion plan.

Party leaders expressed guarded optimism that they could pass the package with its key elements intact. “I’m very hopeful we’re all going to be united and pass this bill,” said Schumer, who said he and his staff were in touch with Ms. Sinema about the measure.

Research contact: @nytimes

Editor’s note: According to The New York Times, ” Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, announced on Thursday evening that she would support moving forward with her party’s climate, tax and health care package, clearing the way for a major piece of President Biden’s domestic agenda to move through the Senate in the coming days.”

‘Alarm bell’: Oz’s struggles have GOP pitching alternate path to Senate takeover

August 3, 2022

The GOP establishment is feeling down on Dr. Oz, reports Politico.

The Senate Republicans’ campaign arm is privately sounding the alarm about physician Mehmet Oz’s bid for the Senate in the critical battleground of Pennsylvania, while telling donors that the party still has a path to winning the majority without the state.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised concerns about Oz’s lackluster polling and fundraising on at least three separate occasions in recent weeks, multiple sources have informed Politico.

On a donor call last week that focused on Senate races throughout the country, NRSC officials discussed Oz’s poor performance in polls, including his high unfavorability ratings, said a person on the call.

“It was an alarm bell,” the person said, adding that Oz’s poor image among voters is “really freaking everybody out.”

On the call, NRSC officials sought to calm nerves and assure financial backers that Republicans could still take back the Senate majority even without an Oz victory. The GOP only needs to unseat one Democrat this fall in order to win the Senate, which is currently split 50-50.

But Republicans also must defend other crucial swing states such as Wisconsin and North Carolina, while trying to flip the likes of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire. Failing to hold onto retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey’s seat in Pennsylvania would be a major blow to the party.

The NRSC officials on the call “brought to everyone’s attention that there’s definitely a path to winning the Senate even if Oz loses, and that seemed to be a very big concern on the call—is that Oz just has not hit his stride as a candidate,” the person on the call last week said. “The viewpoint was it’s more important to reallocate money to seats that we feel we can win.”

Oz has been consistently trailing Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman in public polls, including, most dramatically, by 11 percentage points in a Fox News survey released this week. Oz’s challenges come despite his opponent’s own troubles, as well as Republicans’ favorable political environment across the nation. In May, Fetterman suffered a stroke. He has not held a public event since then, and though he recently said he is 100% able to run, it’s not yet clear how vigorously he will be able to campaign.

During a separate call with donors in mid-July, while discussing Oz’s anemic fundraising and poor polling performance, an NRSC official again worked to ease the minds of contributors and argued that Republicans could win back the Senate without Pennsylvania if necessary.

“We have a path with Pennsylvania, and don’t worry, we have a path without Pennsylvania,” an NRSC official said on the mid-July call, according to another person who participated in the call.

In a statement to Politico, NRSC spokesperson Chris Hartline maintained that the committee is committed to the Pennsylvania race. After the story published, Hartline disputed comments attributed to NRSC staff, saying “any implication that we don’t have full confidence in the Oz campaign and our chances of winning PA is false.”

“Dr. Oz has been campaigning around the state talking to voters about their struggles dealing with Joe Biden and John Fetterman’s failed agenda while Fetterman hasn’t been seen in public in three months,” Hartline said in an earlier statement. “The NRSC is supporting Oz’s campaign in whatever ways we can, as we do with all Republican Senate campaigns, and we look forward to a big win in November.”

In a statement, Oz’s campaign also touted its work with the NRSC.

Research contact: @politico

Senate Democrats, including Joe Manchin, (finally) strike a deal

July 29, 2022

On Thursday, July 28, the word was out: Senate Democrats unveiled a surprise, pulled-from-the-ashes $670 billion spending plan that has the blessing of the mercurial centrist Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) It’s an outline to help lower drug prices, give Americans more subsidized health coverage under Obamacare, and mitigate climate change, The Hill reports.

It would be paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, which sounds similar to proposals Manchin previously rejected.

Scheduled to become law before the Senate escapes for its August break, the proposed reconciliation package needs all 50 Democrats and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as approval by the House. It would be a big win for President Joe Biden—and Republicans have said they are opposed.

“It’s like two brothers from different mothers, I guess. He gets pissed off, I get pissed off, and we’ll go back and forth. He basically put out statements, and the dogs came after me again,”  Manchin told Politico in an interview about talks with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York). “We just worked through it.”

In a shocking development, Manchin struck a deal with Schumer after more than a year of hemming and hawing in talks over a number of proposals that had been unable to garner his backing.

Headlining the rejuvenated bill are $369 billion in funding for energy and climate programs over the next ten yearswith the goal of reducing emissions by roughly 40% by 2030 and an additional $300 billion to reduce the deficit.

According to a summary released by the two senators, the blueprint would raise $739 billion in new revenue through a variety of proposals:

  • $313 billion via a 15% corporate minimum tax;
  • $288 billion from empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices;
  • $124 billion from strong IRS enforcement of tax law; and
  • $14 billion from closing the carried interest loophole for money managers.

The Hill reports that the newly announced proposals will be tacked on to a bill that includes items that were expected to dominate as part of an even-slimmer package—a multiyear extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies aimed at preventing premium increases that is extended through the end of Biden’s first term and provisions aimed at lowering prescription drugs.

According to the two Senate Democrats, the bill will be brought to the floor next week before the upper chamber recesses in August.

The breakthrough hands the party a massive and a seemingly improbable victory that very few, if any, had anticipated. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) told  The Wall Street Journal  that she only learned of the bill while on the way to the chamber to vote on Wednesday evening.

“Holy shit. Stunned, but in a good way,” Senator Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) said.

Research contact: @thehill

‘It wouldn’t be my choice for judge’: Senate Democrats slam Biden’s planned anti-abortion pick

July 13, 2022

Several Senate Democrats said on Monday, July 11, that they planned to vote against the confirmation of a conservative, anti-abortion federal judge nominee if President Joe Biden follows through with a purported deal with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, reports USA Today. 

The strong reaction from Democrats on Biden’s planned nomination of attorney Chad Meredith in Kentucky raised the prospects that the president’s own party could block the pick, should he move forward.

“All I’m going to tell you is I’m going to vote no,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on Monday. “It’s his call, but if he asked me for my advice I would say I don’t know how many Democrats are planning on voting yes.”

Biden has not formally nominated Meredith, a Federal Society attorney who has fought against abortion rights.  But—as first reported exclusively by The Courier Journal—a White House official informed Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear‘s office in an email on June 23 that the Biden Administration planned to nominate Meredith to a U.S. District Court judgeship in Kentucky’s Eastern District the next day.

The next morning, however, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade—ending the constitutional right to abortion and sending shock waves across the nation. Meredith’s intended nomination was not announced or submitted.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which takes up federal judicial nominations, said he spoke last week to the White House about the potential Meredith nomination.

“What’s in it for us? They didn’t give a specific answer,” Durbin told reporters, according to Politico. He said Democrats would not support Meredith’s confirmation “on his merits alone.”

Durbin told USA TODAY he needs to “know more,” including whether there was any arrangement with McConnell, adding: “It wouldn’t be my choice for judge.”

Biden could try to win support of a Meredith nomination with Republican votes in an evenly divided Senate. But a president fighting his own party for a lower-court judicial nominee would be highly unusual, and he would have to overcome a Judiciary Committee controlled by Democrats.

McConnell has refused to comment until Biden officially submits a nominee, but his camp has dismissed talk of a deal as “false information.”

Biden’s potential nomination of Meredith has fueled a backlash from progressive activists who have demanded bolder action from the Biden Administration after the Supreme Court decision.

Several pro-abortion-rights groups have called the potential nomination “unacceptable” and demanded Biden not move ahead with it.

nominated,” Brown said. “He should not send the name on.”

Research contact: @USATODAY

How the January 6 panel’s star witness drew a roadmap for Trump’s culpability

CasJune 30, 2022

Cassidy Hutchinson wasn’t a household name before her testimony at the January 6 select committee’s hearing on Tuesday, June 28, but it seems unlikely she’ll remain in obscurity now, reports Politico.

With what may prove the most damning testimony about a sitting president’s actions in American history, the former right hand of ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows stitched together every element of the panel’s case against former President Donald Trump, Politico says.

The Capitol riot committee has painted the former president’s potential criminal culpability for his effort to overturn the election in stark hues: investigators have portrayed Trump fuming atop an increasingly conspiracy-addled West Wing and working to corrupt the peaceful transfer of power at any cost.

Yet it was their sixth hearing that most clearly cast Trump as a uniquely pernicious force, thanks to a soft-spoken but bell-clear witness.

“I was disgusted,” Hutchinson said of Trump’s behavior on January 6, particularly after he tweeted an attack on Mike Pence as the then-vice president was fleeing rioters who’d called for his execution. “It was unpatriotic. It was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie.”

And, while Trump and his allies rejected her assertions as “hearsay”—or, in Trump’s case, simply false—the former president’s allies have offered limited pushback so far to any of the specific evidence and recollections she presented. In fact, much of what she described has been corroborated by others.

Among her recollections, part of a succession of shocking details from inside the White House:

  • Trump was informed that members of the crowd during the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, 2021, carried weapons. He asked the Secret Service to dismantle metal detectors to let them into the Ellipse,  so that his audience would appear larger on TV. Those rallygoers would later march to the Capitol and mount a violent siege aimed at disrupting Congress’ certification of Trump’s loss.
  • Trump lunged at the steering wheel of his presidential vehicle after he was informed that the Secret Service would not permit him to travel to the Capitol following his speech at that Ellipse rally.
  • Trump told aides that he agreed with those who had stormed the Capitol and thought they were “right” to call for Pence’s hanging.
  • Meadows and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani sought pardons from the then-president for their actions on that date related to challenging the election.

Hutchinson shared her sworn narrative just as federal prosecutors appear to be closing in on several of Trump’s top supporters/aides in his effort to stay in power. FBI agents last week seized the cell phone of attorney John Eastman, who devised a January 6 strategy to pressure Pence to overturn the election; they also searched the Lorton, Virginia, residence of Jeffery Clark, a former Justice Department official whom Trump nearly appointed acting attorney general to aid his election subversion push.

Meanwhile, Trump was also watching. The former president uncorked an 11-post tirade against Hutchinson on the Truth Social platform he created after getting booted from Twitter post-Capitol riot. He called her a “third-rate social climber,” denying her accounts of his comments about Pence as well as his apparent physical confrontation with his Secret Service leader—and even suggested her handwriting was indicative of a “whacko.”

Some Trump allies sought to puncture Hutchinson’s credibility by casting doubt on the notion that Trump could have lunged at the wheel of his car, given the layout of the presidential limousine known as “The Beast.” However, he was not riding in the beast; but in an SUV he often used.

Former security aide Tony Ornato relayed to her the details of what took place in Trump’s Secret Service vehicle, as she explained to the select panel.

Yet Hutchinson laid out a road map for the committee to test her own credibility. She showed that, time and again, she was a go-to for Trump backers looking to connect with Meadows and, ultimately, the former president himself.

McCarthy called her to vent about Trump’s rally speech on January 6, she recalled. Cipollone complained to her that White House aides could be on the hook for crimes if Trump traveled to the Capitol on Jan. 6, she said. And former national intelligence director John Ratcliffe told Hutchinson he was concerned about Trump’s effort to overturn the election, she testified.

Even when Hutchinson wasn’t dropping bombshells, she was helping paint a granular picture of Trump’s West Wing and how it operated. She described top officials as falling into three camps during the riot: those who pleaded with Trump to call off the rioters; those who stayed “neutral,” knowing that Trump didn’t want to act; and those who wanted to “deflect” blame for the violence away from Trump supporters.

Hutchinson described the layout of the West Wing, the way information flowed among officials in Trump’s chaotic offices, and the way Meadows was the connective tissue for Trump among a slew of disparate factions within his orbit.

Where the select committee goes from here is a bigger question now, Politico notes. Its chair, Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), floated the possibility of calling then-White House Counsel Pat Cipollone in for a transcribed hearing. The former top Trump White House lawyer already has met informally with the panel but has not sat for the type of on-camera interview that many other former aides have.

The panel also plans to highlight the nexus between Trump’s orbit and the domestic extremist groups that seeded the Capitol riot—including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. And there’s likely to be a further public effort to reconstruct Trump’s movements on January 6, as he watched the violence unfold on TV, but took no actions to help quell the mob.

Research contact: @politico