After an evening of widespread speculation about why the January 6th Committee was suddenly going off calendar and holding a public hearing today, and who the surprise star witness at the hearing might be, we finally have our answer. It’s Cassidy Hutchinson – a person most of the public has never even heard of. But here’s the thing.
From the start of the January 6th Committee process, we’ve pointed out that the most useful witnesses in these kinds of probes tend to be the people who were in the room where the crimes happened, but have no criminal liability of their own. Mark Meadows can’t just show up and testify against Trump on television, because Meadows is likely facing a broad array of criminal charges in his own right. If Meadows were to testify, he would be making it a lot easier for the DOJ to convict him – so he can’t testify without cutting a deal with the DOJ first.
But Meadows’ former White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, has no known criminal liability. Instead she was simply in the room for most or all of Meadows’ meetings when he was Trump White House Chief of Staff. This means she witnessed most of the things Meadows said, and most of the crimes Meadows committed. She may have even been in the room when Meadows and Trump were plotting crimes together, or in the room with Meadows when he was on the phone with Trump.
Hutchinson may or may not want to be cooperating with the committee. But in reality it was a straightforward choice for her: or could either give up Meadows and Trump and then face no criminal consequences, or she could protect Meadows and Trump and end up going to prison for contempt. Fortunately, she’s chosen the former. And after significant cooperation with the committee behind the scenes, and changing attorneys in order to more fully cut herself off from Trump world, she’s now willing to publicly testify against Meadows and Trump.
If you accept the fairly obvious-in-hindsight premise that Meadows himself was never going to publicly testify during these hearings, then Cassidy Hutchinson is probably the most ideal witness you could realistically hope for. She’s the one who can give first hand testimony about the crimes that Trump and Meadows were plotting, in conversations that perhaps no one else was even in the room for – except her.
Hutchinson has reportedly been subjected to serious and credible threats against her safety, to the point that there are reportedly bomb squads in place at the Capitol today. These kinds of extreme threats from Trump world, against someone who hasn’t even been a widely known name up to this point, points to just how petrified Trump world is about her testimony. As compelling as the various witnesses have been up to this point, and as damaging as they’ve been to Trump, Hutchinson could end up being the most ground-shifting witness of all.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report