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A moment of courage in Trump World

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Cassidy Hutchinson Jan 6 Hearing.
Cassidy Hutchinson Jan 6 Hearing.
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org), Author: United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack)
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By Bob Gaydos

Thank you, Cassidy Hutchinson. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your sense of right and wrong. Thank you for your patriotism. Thank you for demonstrating that not every Republican in government service is either a coward or a bagman for Donald Trump. Thank you for the truth.

America needed it. And, honestly, I really needed it.

Hutchinson is the former White House aide who testified publicly before the Jan. 6 Congressional Committee about Trump's unsuccessful struggle with Secret Service agents to join the protesters on the Capitol steps during that fateful day.

But Hutchinson also testified privately before the committee three times and the committee's recently released final report details a story of blatant witness tampering with Hutchinson as the target.

As executive assistant to Mark Meadows, Trump's chief of staff, Hutchinson also carried the title of special assistant to the president. That means she heard a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff Trump didn't want the committee or anyone else to hear about. For example, that he knew he had lost the 2020 presidential election, but wasn't accepting that outcome.

Knowing she would be called to testify before the committee, the White House insisted on providing her with a lawyer, Stefan Passantino, who refused to tell her who was paying him (Trump's PAC). Passantino counseled Hutchinson to testify that she couldn't recall anything that was discussed concerning January 6.

Her problem was that she recalled very well everything that had been said, but she also knew that in "Trump World," as she referred to the White House, loyalty is demanded and those who buck the boss are often made to pay dearly. They could destroy her career.

So in her first private interview with the committee, she followed her lawyer's suggestion. She couldn't recall much. But she also had a conscience. She knew right from wrong. She knew what she had heard and she knew what she had told the committee was a lie. A lie for which she could be arrested.

The 26-year-old former intern to Senator Ted Cruz decided to get herself another lawyer, made a back channel connection to let the committee know she wanted to come back and testify again, and subsequently told the truth: They had told her to lie, that it would be OK, that she would be taken care of. Don't worry.

What Passantino told her, in her own words: "Look, the goal with you is to get you in and out. Keep your answers short, sweet, and simple, seven words or less. The less the committee thinks you know, the better, the quicker it's going to go. It's going to be painless. And then you're going to be taken care of.

"We just want to focus on protecting the President. We're gonna get you a really good job in Trump world. You don't need to apply to other places. We're gonna get you taken care of. We want to keep you in the family."

Hutchinson told the committee that family member Meadows also sent her a message telling her "the boss" knew she was testifying and knew that she was "loyal." Straight out of the "Godfather" playbook.

Despite her fear and intimate knowledge of how "Trump World" dealt with what it saw as disloyalty, Hutchinson was true to her beliefs. She told the committee: "I did feel like it was my obligation and my duty to share (what she knew), because I think that if you're given a position of public power, it's also your job, your civic responsibility, to allow the people to make decisions for themselves. And if no one's going to do that, like, somebody has to do it."

Indeed. Thank you, Cassidy Hutchinson, for being that somebody.

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Bob Gaydos is a veteran of 40-plus years in daily newspapers. He began as police reporter with The (Binghamton, N.Y.) Sun-Bulletin, eventually covering government and politics as well as serving as city editor, features editor, sports editor and (more...)
 

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