If you want to know why former President Donald Trump and so many of his supporters don’t trust assurances from government Democrats that the 2020 election was on the level, just ask Cassidy Hutchinson.
The former Trump aide provided “stunning,” “bombshell” testimony as a “surprise” witness at the latest Democrat hearing into the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol a year and a half ago.
According to the disgruntled ear witness, Ms. Hutchinson played a riotous game of telephone with Mr. Trump, a secret service agent and other administration officials on the dramatic day in question. Predictably, the result of her game of telephone was precisely what the result of any game of telephone always is.
The first person says: “My son smokes crack, video tapes himself with whores and hatches massive bribery schemes worth tens of millions of dollars between the China/Ukraine governments and the sitting president of the United States.”
By the time it gets all the way around the table to The New York Times, the statement becomes: “Hunter Biden is the smartest person I know and an expert on energy policy, the United States Supreme Court is a threat to Democracy and I don’t shower with my daughter.”
Pretty amazing, really. And a reminder why actual courts of law do not allow ear witness testimony or hearsay and require cross examination of all witnesses — especially disgruntled ear witnesses who make provably false statements.
According to the results of Ms. Hutchinson’s game of telephone, Mr. Trump ordered armed gunmen to capture the United States Capitol, seized the wheel of his presidential limousine to lead the charge and then threw his lunch against the wall in a temper tantrum when he did not get his way. It was unclear — as this was a game of telephone — if all this happened before or after Russian hookers urinated on the bed up in the Lincoln bedroom.
Either way, the entire media breathlessly and credulously snapped up and reported every word of Ms. Hutchinson’s “stunning” testimony. Which is pretty amazing considering how many of these stories just like this about Mr. Trump get floated and later prove to be entirely manufactured. Or, at least, unsupported.
But, of course, in the Age of Trump, the political media has entirely rewritten its most sacred standards of basic reporting.
The question is no longer, “Is it true?” Now, it is “Could it be true?” No longer is it the burden of the political reporter to prove that Mr. Trump did something terrible. The burden now always rests on Mr. Trump to prove he did not do something terrible that the political reporter thinks he heard somewhere.
Like, did you stop beating your wife? Or, prove to us you did not shower with your daughter. Or, prove that your entire foreign policy isn’t a giant bribery scheme aimed at helping Ukraine and China and probably Mexico, too. In this new world of political reporting, the game of telephone reigns supreme.
“The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab the steering wheel,” Ms. Hutchinson reported, according to her third-hand account in her game of telephone.
Mr. Trump’s Secret Service agent brushed back the president and said: “Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol.”
Then, according to Ms. Hutchinson’s third-hand earwitness telephone game testimony, “Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards” the steering wheel and throttled the agent around “his clavicles.”
At this point in the Democrat hearing, the earwitness grabbed herself by the clavicles for the benefit of dramatic visualization for the committee — dramatic visualization she was not physically present to dramatically visualize herself.
And the committee was sore amazed. As was the ever-dutiful political press, which reported every bit of it as gospel truth.
Unsurprisingly, all this testimony was directly and emphatically challenged by every single actual person who was actually in the vehicle at the time to actually visualize Mr. Trump’s alleged insurrection of the presidential limousine. Even the Secret Service, which is famously mute, issued an extraordinary statement pledging to testify to correct Ms. Hutchinson’s earwitness testimony.
Okay, so big deal. She made up the part about Mr. Trump grabbing the Secret Service agent by the clavicles. Or, maybe the Secret Service agent let Mr. Trump grab him by the clavicles.
The real question is whether Mr. Trump did knowingly inspire and command an armed insurrection of the United States Capitol when he spoke to a crowd of supporters gathered outside the White House.
Here is where Ms. Hutchinson went from earwitness to overhear witness.
“I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f——— care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f——— [metal detectors] away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f——— [metal detectors] away.”
So, it turns out that Mr. Trump prefers large crowds at his speaking engagements. Who knew? Thank goodness for Ms. Hutchinson’s overhear witness testimony.
But as for the “armed insurrection” later that day at the Capitol, we still have no idea who or how many people rioting at the capitol were “armed” with anything other than broom handles and flag poles. What we do know with absolute certainty is that the only person shot and killed that day was unarmed U.S. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, shot in the neck by Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd.
If the rioters were in fact “armed,” they kept their arms holstered for the entire riot.
• Charles Hurt is the opinion editor of The Washington Times.