How Jan. 6 has changed legally, politically for Trump
(NewsNation) —More shocking allegations were leveled at former President Donald Trump on Tuesday, this time coming from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified to the Jan. 6 investigative committee that Trump knew protesters had weapons and demanded to be taken to the Capitol during the insurrection.
Trump allegedly told his staff to let protesters, some of whom were reportedly carrying guns and knives during the violent Capitol riot, past metal detectors and into the Ellipse behind the White House, where the committee intends to prove Trump was playing a key role in inciting the riot.
Hutchinson’s testimony, while adding yet more incredible details to the events surrounding the Jan. 6 riot and the role Trump played in them, added yet more fuel to a burning questions on the minds of Democrats: Will anyone be charged legally for what happened?
Attorney General Merrick Garland has yet to say whether or not the Justice Department will take legal action against Trump or any of his allies for the riot. Doing so would put the Justice Department in uncharted waters when it comes to charging a former president with a crime.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2022. (Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
“From a legal standpoint, you need knowledge and intent when it comes to the violence. They may be a little closer but I still don’t know the evidence is enough to lead the DOJ to act,” NewsNation’s Dan Abrams said Tuesday on “Dan Abrams Live.”
Alex Little, a former assistant attorney for the DOJ under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, told Abrams he did believe things changed legally for Trump after Hutchinson’s testimony.
“The fact the White House was expecting something to go wrong or for things to be very bad at the Capitol, I think that’s pretty damaging,” Little said.
Hutchinson testified Trump was not just aware that protesters had weapons, but also he wanted them to be allowed through medical detectors because they were “not there to hurt me.” That same day Trump said protesters were doing the right thing when they chanted “hang Mike Pence,” Trump’s vice president, because he “deserved it.”
“That does portray he knew or at least was willing to be OK with the fact that they could hurt others with those weapons. That’s particularly damaging knowing particularly what happened later when there were police officers who were hurt with those weapons,” Little said.
While it remains unclear now, and could for sometime, whether the DOJ will pursue criminal charges against Trump and his allies, the political fallout from the investigative hearings is playing out in real time as pivotal primary elections occur nationwide.
Primary results have been a mixed bag so far for candidates who have gotten an endorsement from Trump, as some Republicans quietly push for the party to move away from the embattled former president.
From left, Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., sit on the dais as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues, Monday, June 13, 2022 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jabin Botsford/Pool via AP)
“I think there are a whole lot of Republicans who wish that Donald Trump would just go away,” said Linda Chavez, the public liaison director for the Ronald Reagan administration.
Republicans are hoping to flip both the House and Senate in their favor come November’s general elections, and are banking on rising gas prices and inflation hampering Democrats’ election chances.
While only rumors have abounded thus far of big name Republicans running for president against Trump, Chazez said there are “a lot” who want to do it. How the investigative committee hearing impact those races could be crucial to the future of the Oval Office.
“This could be a Republican year, but not with Donald Trump at the helm,” Chavez said. “I think this is a boon to all those people wanting to run and be the nominee in 2024.”