Endgame nears for Trump as chaotic cadre unravels


Legal experts have fallen over themselves listing the specific serious crimes Hutchinson’s testimony gave evidence to. It feels like we have slipped into an endgame. What will Donald Trump do now?

Unfortunately for him, the House committee is not operating in a vacuum. The U.S. Department of Justice, which is under the purview of Joe Biden, not Congress, is investigating these issues as well: Last week, the department seized the phone of John Eastman, a lawyer who had been the source of many of the unhinged legal theories Trump was pushing, and raided the home of Jeffrey Clark, the man who served for a few weeks as his acting attorney general. (And it’s likely that the department had already secretly subpoenaed material on the pair from various communication providers.)

Then US president Donald Trump and his White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, right, talk outside the Oval Office in 2020.Credit:AP

Trump has dodged so many investigations thus far it’s foolish and wishful to think this one will do the job. But his options at this point seem few. He can deny and deny and deny, say, that he knew about weapons on the National Mall, but investigators can easily find and talk to the people who can confirm Hutchinson’s story. (It’s a felony to lie to the FBI; beyond that, the justice department can force people to testify truthfully by offering them immunity.)

Trump can also keep claiming it’s all a conspiracy – another of his tiresome mantras. This will be duly amplified by his friends at Fox News. But of course, all of the most damaging testimony thus far has come from a conspiracy of … the motley crew he himself chose to run his administration.

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The very fact that Trump did nothing that day to halt the assault on the Capitol should have been enough to make him a pariah. Now we are reduced to worrying whether the assault was part of his plan from the start. (Similarly, it’s a scandal in itself that groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, at the Capitol early and ready for mayhem, were also providing personal security for Roger Stone, the longtime political trickster and Trump crony whom Trump pardoned after he received multiple felony convictions stemming from his interference in the Mueller investigation.) But the reality might be much worse: at this point it would be surprising to learn that these armed groups were not an explicit part of the president’s plan to take back power.

The committee has said it will deliver at least one more presentation, focusing on what exactly Trump did the day of the attack, and then deliver a final report, presumably before the fall midterm elections, in which the Democrats may lose their majority. (And Republican Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair, might lose her seat.)

The position of Trump and his cronies is beginning to feel a bit cultish. Not “yelling and screaming and irrational” cultish, but “doomed and ready for the end” cultish. That’s a sobering thing to say. But of course they have all brought it on themselves. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer group of people.



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