The Queens Jewish Link has a new feature, “Where’s Warren’s Column?” A couple of months ago under my byline, the paper printed a repeat of Goldy Krantz’s column. This past week the table of contents listed my column on page 46. Instead of my submission, there was a letter to the editor from one of my regular critics. Who knows where my column could end up in a future issue or what will be put in place of it? If anyone has any creative ideas, they should contact the paper.
Now to the column that did not make last week’s paper.
One thing Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is known for is being the route for many parades. It is not the only famous parade route. For example, Coney Island has the Mermaid Parade and Greenwich Village has the Halloween Parade. To my knowledge, there is no parade in New York City on Independence Day. I find that inexcusable. If there is any day that there should be a parade, it is July 4. The excuse that there are fireworks July 4 night is no justification. They could have had the parade in the outer boroughs. When I used to be up in the Catskills for the summer, there were parades on July 4. If Ellenville can have a parade, New York City can have one.
This past week there were also fireworks at the January 6 House Committee. A surprise witness, Cassidy Hutchinson, a member of the staff of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified. Unlike prior witnesses, her testimony has caused cracks in the Trump defenders. For example, former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Fox commentator Andrew McCarthy have changed their tune about Trump (see McCarthy “The Jan. 6 incitement case against Trump only gets stronger,” June 29 NY Post). The Fox commentators, after hearing her testimony, seemed stunned. It reminds me of what happened in Watergate. It took a while for the defenders of Nixon to slowly peel away until he had little support in Washington.
The Committee has done an excellent job of presenting its case. They showed that the claim of election fraud had no validity. They presented evidence about the pressure campaign to influence Mike Pence and certain state officials to overturn the results. The committee relied upon Republican officials including those who explicitly stated that they voted for Trump. The Committee showed that Trump’s involvement was greater than was known. Yet those on the right were able to ignore its findings, pretending that it did not exist or mocking its importance. As a result of Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony, they are not ignoring it anymore. Instead, they are going after Ms. Hutchinson.
What changed is Trump’s exposure. When it came to Trump’s claim of election fraud and his attempt to force Mike Pence to accept the alternative slate of electors, Trump had deniability that he did anything wrong. He could blame the lawyers, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, and Rudy Giuliani. However, Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony, if believed, places Trump directly in the line of fire. It is protocol that in order to go to the rally involving the president participants had to go through magnetometers (metal detectors). The Secret Service did not want the participants to have weapons because it presented a potential danger to the president since the weapon could be used against the president. According to Ms. Hutchinson, Trump tried to get the Secret Service to allow those with weapons into the rally saying that they were “no threat to me.” The implication was that these armed individuals could use their weapons against others, namely members of Congress and the Vice President at the Capitol. Trump then whipped up the crowd with his rhetoric knowing that many of these individuals were armed. After Trump’s fiery speech in which he said he would go with them to the Capitol, Ms. Hutchinson testified that Trump wanted to drive to the Capitol but was overruled by the Secret Service. It can be inferred that Trump wanted to lead an armed group to the Capitol with the goal of making sure that Congress would not go ahead with the vote to declare Biden the next president. He cannot pin the blame on anyone else. Just as many of Trump’s defenders are shocked by this testimony, even some of his biggest critics could not imagine Trump going so far. I figured that he had no intention of going to the Capitol when he told the crowd he would go. Trump would never go because he would have deniability as to the crowd’s actions since he was not present. I also thought Trump was smarter than putting himself in potential danger by making the comment about the weapons. It just proves that arrogance of power effects one’s ability to act rationally.
Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony also puts pressure on others, such as the president’s lawyer Pat Cipollone, to come in and testify under oath. Moreover, it may cause those who in the past thought it was a good idea to try to stonewall the committee to reconsider their position. For example, Former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows may decide that he does not want to be the fall guy and will come in and testify.
I would also expect some of the lawyers for those who have been called in by the Committee whose fees are being paid by Trump’s Save America Political Action Committee to withdraw as counsel. I can only think of one time when my fee was being paid by a third party who was not a family member of the client. Although it is technically not improper, I had an uneasy feeling. A lawyer’s duty is to the client. Here the client is not paying you. The person who is paying may have a different interest than what is best for the client. That is the position that the Trump PAC-paid lawyers are in. I would not like to be Ms. Hutchinson’s prior lawyer. They will have some explaining to do as to why they appeared to try to limit her cooperation with the Committee. Whose interest were they representing? It is more of a problem for the lawyers, since it was brought up by the Committee that there was witness intimidation or witness influence. The Department of Justice does not look kindly on such actions.
What these hearings have shown is that the number of individuals who appear to have criminal exposure keeps on rising. I expect just like Watergate it will reach up into the highest levels of the presidential administration. After these hearings, I do not think it would come as a shock if Trump was on the list. Trump knows this, and that is why he will speed up his announcement that he is running for president in 2024. This way he can claim that any criminal charges are politically motivated.
It is hard to know for sure, but if Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony is corroborated, many will look back at this past week as the Trump legacy, a group of individuals led by the president who would do whatever it would take to try to stay in power whether or not it required engaging in criminal conduct.