ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Other View: ‘Let my people in’: Donald Trump’s incriminating words close the case for prosecuting him

Trump
File photo
We are part of The Trust Project.

The weightiest immediate question raised by the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the U.S. Capitol and the continuing House hearings is whether the deadly insurrection requires an unprecedented criminal prosecution of a former president.

It’s not a question anymore.

Also Read
Not long after Donald Trump’s 2016 election, Vox’s Zack Beauchamp traveled to Hungary, where its authoritarian leader, Viktor Orbán, had implemented many of the populist-right policies that had energized the American president’s most ardent supporters. Notably, Orbán militarized Hungary’s southern border to stop the “invasion” of migrants — and he has made base racial appeals.
Far too many children in Minnesota and across the nation are struggling to stay mentally afloat.

The disturbing firsthand account of Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows who testified before the Jan. 6 committee in a hastily added hearing Tuesday, left Donald Trump inextricably bound to the deadly violence of that day. Hutchinson ensured as much by displaying the courage and candor many of the former president’s senior lieutenants have sorely lacked.

True to the disinformation that Trump and company literally weaponized on that day, Americans have been forced to endure an endless effort to downplay the events of Jan. 6 to the extent of questioning whether a violent attempted coup even took place. Hutchinson’s testimony showed not only that it was an armed insurrection but also that it was known, embraced and encouraged by the then-president. She repeatedly pierced whatever shreds of plausible deniability the former president retained after weeks of testimony and a year and a half of revelations about his and his allies’ plot to overturn his loss to Joe Biden.

Informed that the crowd he summoned to Washington was armed and dangerous, Hutchinson testified that Trump demanded that weapon-detecting magnetometers be taken down and cheered for a blitzkrieg on the Capitol. There, his mob would maim police officers and come within yards of members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I don’t f—ing care that they have weapons,” Hutchinson recalled Trump saying. “They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f—ing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.”

Her testimony also bolstered reports that Trump was aware of and at peace with the prospect of mortal harm to Pence, whose loyalty had flagged only at the point of breaking the law.

“He (Trump) doesn’t want to do anything,” Meadows told White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Hutchinson recounted, as the crowd called for Pence’s hanging. “He thinks Mike deserves it.”

Trump’s hours of inaction as a deluded and murderous crowd overtook the Capitol have been thoroughly documented. Hutchinson’s testimony further showed that he was not only rooting for the rioters but was also violently eager to join them in person. She said a top security official told her Trump had lunged at a member of his detail and tried to seize control of the presidential limousine when he was informed he would not be taken to the Capitol.

Hutchinson’s testimony adds to a lengthy record of evidence that Trump and his allies conspired to overturn an election they knew they lost, and incited the violence in which their plot culminated on Jan. 6. A California-based federal judge considering disclosures to the House committee has concluded that Trump and Southern California lawyer John Eastman likely committed federal crimes by interfering with congressional certification of the election.

The risk of criminalizing our politics has ensured that a prosecution of a former president has been rarely considered and never undertaken. Jan. 6 and its aftermath show that the risk of failing to prosecute Trump for a violent attack on our democracy would be greater.

©2022 The Sacramento Bee
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

What to read next
The next test is how vigorously the NFL pursues its appeal to deter future player malfeasance and demonstrate the league has finally evolved.
How angry are some Republicans at what they see as betrayal by a centrist Democrat? Angry enough to betray sick military veterans, apparently. That’s the only rational explanation for last week’s sudden about-face by two dozen Senate Republicans, including Missouri’s Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, who opposed legislation they previously supported to make it easier for cancer-stricken veterans to get help from the government.
On Sept. 11, about 65,000 fans will pack U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis to watch the 123rd battle between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers.
They reminded America that it could do better.