Cassidy Hutchinson may have done more to place Donald Trump in legal jeopardy than anyone other than Trump himself. By the time the twentysomething deputy to Mark Meadows (Trump’s last chief of staff) completed her first public appearance before the January 6 committee, in June last year, the US had received an up-close-and-personal view of the venom, wrath and malice of the 45th president.
Hutchinson “isn’t crazy”, a Trump White House veteran confided to the Guardian before that first hearing. But she is a “time bomb”.
When told that he would not be driven to the Capitol to join the rioters, Trump lunged for the steering wheel of his car. He said Mike Pence “deserved” to be hanged for his refusal to overturn the election. He broke dishes and splattered condiments. Hutchinson “grabbed a towel and started wiping the ketchup off of the wall to help the valet out”. Her testimony was extraordinary. It has also withstood scrutiny.
The Capitol was defaced for the “sake of a lie”, Hutchinson declared, on camera. She placed Trump, Meadows and Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, in the middle of it all.
Fifteen months later, however, Trump is both a 91-times charged criminal defendant and the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, tied with, if not ahead of, Joe Biden in the polls. In Fulton county, Georgia, a grand jury indicted Meadows and Giuliani as well as Trump, for seeking to illegally overturn Biden’s win. As for Hutchinson, she is out with Enough, her memoir.
She shares her life story, pointing a damning finger at the powerful, the guys she once worked for and her own father. She tries to exhale but doesn’t fully succeed. She can’t. She is likely to be a witness at Trump’s Washington trial on four election subversion charges, slated to kick off the day before Super Tuesday, the key point of the Republican primary next year.
Hutchinson expresses gratitude for life’s opportunities and disgust for what she has seen and endured. Her nameless “dad”, her mother’s first husband, was all too often a no-show in clutch moments. She considers Paul, the man who followed, to be her “chosen father”. He was there when it counted. Meadows once asked if she had a happy childhood, she writes. She offers a detailed answer.
Hutchinson’s disdain for Trump is on record. Now, too, is her deep disillusionment with Meadows and disgust for Giuliani.
On January 6, “America’s mayor” allegedly preyed upon her. John Eastman, Trump’s legal adviser in his attempted coup, purportedly looked on and smiled.
Over time, Meadows let Hutchinson down, then abandoned her entirely. When the subpoenas began to fly, he left her to fend for herself. He never offered to help, she says, in contrast to how he treated his male deputy, Ben Williamson. To Hutchinson, Meadows extended platitudes as if she were a mass shooting victim.
“Tell her me and Debbie are thinking about her,” he told Williamson.
In her own memoir, Kayleigh McEnany, Trump’s last White House press secretary, gushed at Hutchinson: “You were a constant reminder of faith. Thank you for being an inspiring leader for the entire West Wing.” The contrast in the two women’s post-White House lives is remarkable. McEnany is ensconced at Fox News. Hutchinson gives interviews at home with the shades drawn, worried for her safety.
According to Hutchinson, Meadows ceaselessly sought to endear himself to Trump, a task impossible for anyone other than Ivanka, Trump’s oldest daughter. Early on, Meadows told Hutchinson he would take a bullet for his boss.
“I would do anything … to get him re-elected,” he said.
Months later, Meadows did something: he hid Trump’s Covid from Hutchinson and from the world at large. He knew Trump had fulfilled appearances and taken the debate stage against Biden after testing positive. He did not share that information. Later, when Hutchinson and Meadows were in a limo, she asked if Trump had Covid. Meadows did not answer.
“His silence answered every question I had,” Hutchinson writes now.
She did not sicken and flirt with death, as Chris Christie did after helping prep Trump for the debate. But no apology was forthcoming. All were expected to take the bullet.
Out of office, however, Meadows ratted Trump out, in his own memoir, The Chief’s Chief. Hutchinson cites his book in hers.
“Stop the president from leaving,” Meadows says Sean Conley, the White House physician, told him. “He just tested positive for Covid.”
“Mr President,” Meadows says he said, “I’ve got some bad news. You’ve tested positive for Covid-19.” Trump’s reply, the devout Christian writes, “rhyme[d] with ‘Oh spit, you’ve gotta be trucking lidding me”.
When Meadows’s book came out, Trump trashed it as “fake news” and derided Meadows as “fucking stupid”. Meadows concurred. These days, though, he appears to be cooperating with Jack Smith, the special counsel. The prospect of prison can bring clarity. Ask Michael Cohen.
Giuliani and Eastman deny Hutchinson’s description of how the former groped her as the latter smiled. They also threaten to sue but they have larger things to focus on, professions and freedom at risk.
If anyone’s character can be judged by the identities of their enemies, Hutchinson is well placed. Starting with Trump, she has amassed an array of appalling detractors. But she has able folks in her corner. Liz Cheney, the January 6 vice-chair whose stand against Trump cost her so dearly, is there. Hutchinson’s roster of legal talent, meanwhile, includes Jody Hunt and Bill Jordan. A justice department veteran, Hunt was chief of staff to Jeff Sessions, Trump’s first attorney general.
When news of Enough was breaking, another former Trump legal adviser, Ty Cobb, told the Guardian: “Hutchinson was a very devoted White House employee who worked very very hard. She was proud to serve her country. So sad she had to endure this.”
Enough is published in the US by Simon & Schuster