Needed from the 1/6 Committee

Dr. Malcolm Cross

The biggest news stories last week centered on the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson before the congressional committee examining the events of January 6, 2021.  While her testimony may ring true to many, corroboration from other sources is necessary to establish the validity of her claims.  Her claims and those of other witnesses need more rigorous analysis than the committee is currently providing.

Ms. Hutchinson was a top aide to Mark Meadows, former President Trump’s last chief of staff.  As such, she was working in the White House on 1/6/21 where she allegedly saw much and heard more.  Her testimony before the 1/6 committee was a report on what she claims to have seen and heard, as well as on what others told her.

Ms. Hutchinson reported that she witnessed Mr. Trump demanding that those who came to Washington to support him on 1/6 be given greater access even if they were armed, saying he knew that they were his supporters and therefore would not endanger him.  She also witnessed him saying that he planned not only to address his supporters but lead them on a march to the Capitol, where Vice president Mike Pence was to preside over the counting of the electoral vote.  And she said Trump heard the chants of “Hang Mike Pence” and expressed approval.  Her assertions, if true, would support accusations that Mr. Trump was an active and knowing instigator of the riot at the Capitol.

But Ms. Hutchinson’s most sensational testimony concerned Mr. Trump’s alleged conduct in the presidential SUV whose driver was told to take him to the Capitol.  The Secret Service agents guarding him allegedly refused to do so, apparently out of concerns for his safety, and in anger at their disobedience he allegedly lunged at an agent and tried to grab the steering wheel of the presidential SUV. So what can we make of Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony and her credibility?

Ms. Hutchinson is enjoying widespread support across the political spectrum.  Her many admirers in the news media and government say that her testimony has the ring of truth.  They argue that Ms. Hutchinson was testifying under oath and that her accounts could be easily corroborated—or refuted–by others who were present with her, Meadows, and the President, or with the President and his Secret Service guards in the SUV. She would have no reason to risk perjury charges by lying about matters presumably witnessed by so many others who could contradict her and rebut her testimony.

But some analysists see flaws both in her testimony and the way by which it was elicited which could undermine her credibility.

The most obvious problem is with her account of Mr. Trump and the Secret Service agents in the SUV.  She admits hat she did not actually see Mr. Trump attack the agents and try to wrest control of the SUV; her testimony on this matter was based entirely on what she was told by others.  Those who allegedly witnessed (or participated in) the alleged struggle for control of the SUV should obviously be required to testify under oath before the 1/6 committee themselves before Ms. Hutchinson’s claims should be accepted as fact.  Indeed, those who were present with Ms. Hutchinson at the events she said she personally witnessed should be called to testify under oath to either support or rebut Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony as well.

Moreover, Ms. Hutchinson, and everyone else who testifies before the committee should be subject to what heretofore has not taken place:  Rigorous cross-examination.  The absence of cross- examination so far is partly the fault of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Pelosi, by appointing only Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans to this nominally bipartisan committee has created a committee membership in which everyone agrees on major issues and nobody wants to challenge other committee members or witnesses testifying to Trump’s alleged misconduct.

But House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy must share some blame as well.  By refusing to help staff the committee after Pelosi rejected some (not all) his original choices for committee membership, he guaranteed the committee would be one-sided with findings less credible than findings produced by a truly bipartisan committee.

In sum, Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony is too important to either ignore or passively accept.  Ms. Hutchinson must be heard, but so too must those who can support or refute what she’s saying.  Only through rigorously challenge and analysis of her testimony can the truth really come out, as it must.  Ms. Hutchinson, Mr. Trump, and especially we the people deserve no less.

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

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