Hanlon’s razor is an adage or rule of thumb that states “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Stupidity is often a good place to start looking for causes of problems in Donald Trump’s White House, but malice is seldom far behind.
Or so it would seem with the United States Secret Service and the case of the missing text messages. Their stupidity defense for deleting most of their text messages from January 6, 2021, that it was part of a software upgrade that went bad, is beginning to wear thin. Malice seems to be a likelier explanation, particularly now that various Secret Service agents who promised to appear before the committee to refute Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony are suddenly no longer cooperating and are beginning to lawyer up.
On Sunday Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger revealed that the agency has yet to cooperate with their requests for testimony, suggesting that agents may be reversing their previous offers to appear. This about-face could be because they are under enough scrutiny for deleting their text messages. They may be thinking that they don’t want to get in even more legal hot water for lying under oath — even if it holds out the delectable prospect (for them) of falsely impugning Cassidy Hutchinson.
As you may recall, Ms. Hutchinson testified earlier this month that an agent told her that Donald Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the SUV he was being driven in when he learned that the Secret Service wouldn’t let him accompany the insurrection mob to the Capitol. He claimed Trump also physically assaulted one of the agents. These allegations have been supported from other sources.
One Trump-appointed Secret Service official who supposedly told Ms. Hutchinson about the incident denied, through a Secret Service spokesperson, that the incident in question happened. He further claimed that he would testify under oath to that effect. But the under-oath testimony has thus far failed to materialise, and it’s beginning to look as though it never will.
This should serve as yet another reminder that what Trump’s people are willing to say directly or through a spokesperson to the press is often very different from what they are willing to say under oath. It highlights the real reason why so many of Trump’s henchmen don’t want to testify to the January 6 Committee. They understand that there are real-life consequences for their lies when those lies are told under oath.
The once pristine reputation of the United States Secret Service is also now coming into question. It was once believed that they served the president with nonpartisan dedication. That myth is beginning to unravel. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.