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The Odds Are Going Up That Trump Could Be Charged

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On Tuesday, Cassidy Hutchinson provided some of the most damning public testimony yet in the public hearings by the House committee investigating January 6. Speaking clearly, deliberately, and thoughtfully, the former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows provided a riveting and legitimately disturbing account of Donald Trump’s conduct before and during the attack on the Capitol. She appeared to provide the facts as she knew them, without needless speculation. And she seemed to take pains to specify precisely what she knew, how she knew it, and, as importantly, what she did not know. On its face, it was about as credible a performance as any witness can provide.

Hutchinson’s testimony also added distinct pieces of evidentiary support for what committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney described during the first public hearing in June as a “sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the 2020 election and prevent the transition of presidential power.” The committee’s members have made no secret of the fact that they believe that these are appropriate lines of inquiry for a criminal investigation that they would like to see the Justice Department undertake (assuming that it is not already doing so) and that Trump’s conduct could warrant criminal charges. Hutchinson’s testimony in particular advanced the theory that Trump intended for the violence at the Capitol to occur, though not as conclusively as some of the initial reactions from legal observers suggested.

Tuesday’s hearing focused largely on two specific elements of the supposed seven-part plan: first, Trump’s solicitation of a mob to intimidate Congress and Vice-President Mike Pence to overturn the results; and second, Trump’s failure to intervene to stop the violence as he watched it unfold from the White House over several hours. Among other things, Hutchinson testified about some of the warnings about potential violence that the White House received in the run-up to the siege of the Capitol, including that she heard Rudy Giuliani refer to the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. She discussed being present as Trump prepared to take the stage for his speech on January 6 and his insistence that security officials allow armed supporters to attend. “I don’t fucking care that they have weapons,” she heard him say. “They’re not here to hurt me.” She also described hearing about how Trump lunged at a member of his own Secret Service protection when they refused to take him to the Capitol after his speech — an appearance that could have inflamed matters even further. And she recounted hearing Meadows talk with White House counsel Pat Cipollone amid the chaos in the West Wing that afternoon about how Trump “doesn’t........

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