Resetting Our Politics

Did Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony change anything?

Almost exactly 11 months ago, when news broke that the Congressional committee investigating the events leading up to the Capitol riots would have no Republican members in good standing with the caucus, I wrote,

The problem with both arguments is that they assume the committee had any hope of coming up with a comprehensive picture of the events of that day that will be perceived as legitimate. If one holds that assumption, I don’t see how Pelosi had any choice. Banks and, especially, Jordan are clowns who have made no bones about their contempt for the process or the truth. McCarthy’s selection of them was a big Fuck You to the investigation and received the response he had to know was coming.

Given that former President Trump is the de facto target of the investigation and that it is coming in a Democratic-led House, it is going to be seen by his supporters as a partisan witch hunt. Given that Republicans overwhelmingly still support him, with a majority believing that the election was stolen from him, persuading them of his culpability is a lost cause.

Theoretically, at least, the investigation could at least provide those interested in the truth a better picture of what happened. But I’m skeptical we’ll learn much useful that we don’t already know. Congress has subpoena power, of course, but unless they’re going to provide immunity from criminal and civil liability, we’re likely to see a string of people invoking their 5th Amendment rights.

Over time, I came to believe that, even if the hearings didn’t change the mind of a single Trump voter, there was a duty to history to document the event in as much detail as possible. And, in that regard, it has succeeded beyond my hopes, in that we do indeed know a lot of details that we didn’t before that make clear that President Trump and his closest advisors know that their claims of a stolen election were false.

Yesterday’s testimony by previously unknown aide Cassidy Hutchinson made clear what most of us had already presumed: that Trump not only intended to incite a mob to storm the Capitol but he planned to lead them in personally until stopped by the Secret Service. Was it a “surprising, crystallizing moment” that changed the national narrative? It’s too soon to say but there are signs that it might have been.

Multiple columns out overnight by staunch conservatives—albeit not Trumpers—express a sense that the needle has moved.

David French, “The Case for Prosecuting Donald Trump Just Got Much Stronger,” The Dispatch

Earlier this afternoon she gave the most extraordinary congressional testimony I’ve ever seen. She testified that the president was so committed to walking to the Capitol with his own supporters that he allegedly tried to grab the wheel of his Secret Service vehicle. She painted the picture of a president utterly out of control, a man so committed to preserving his own power that he approved of the riot and believed that Mike Pence deserved to face mob justice. 

Hutchinson claims she overheard Trump say about the crowd, “You know, I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away.”

As Jake Tapper noted, the “mags” refer to magnetometers deployed to keep armed individuals away from the president. 


In light of this evidence, Trump’s admonition that the mob march “peacefully and patriotically” looks more like pro forma ass-covering than a genuine plea. It was a drop of pacifism in an ocean of incitement—especially considering other statements made by Trump allies before and during the January 6 rally itself

Bret Stephens, “Will the Jan. 6 Committee Finally Bring Down the Cult of Trump?” NYT

If what she says is true, no longer are we dealing with a committee that is putting a fluorescent light to a set of facts with which we were already broadly familiar.

This is something else: testimony that the president didn’t care that the mob that stormed Congress was armed and that he even tried to lead it by grabbing for the steering wheel of his armored limousine.

“You know, I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons,” Hutchinson testified she overheard the president saying during his rally on Jan. 6. “Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.”

Until now, Trump’s supporters have told themselves an exculpatory story about Jan. 6 that goes like this: The president sincerely believed he had been robbed of the election. His efforts to reverse the outcome were the result of honest indignation. His “Be there, will be wild!” tweet inviting people to the Jan. 6 rally was just his usual hyperbole, not a threat.

So too — to continue with this story — was his call at the rally itself to “fight like hell,” which was ordinary free speech, not an incitement to riot. The people who assaulted the Capitol were a mix of enthusiastic patriots, a few hooligans who got out of hand and probably a few antifa provocateurs. Mike Pence, surrounded by bodyguards, was never at serious personal risk. Congressional Republicans who questioned the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory were no worse than the congressional Democrats who questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s four years earlier.

But the committee’s work made nonsense of that narrative. Trump knew perfectly well that fraud hadn’t caused his defeat: So he had been told, in no uncertain terms, by his loyal attorney general, Bill Barr. The theory that Pence had the authority to stop the counting of electoral votes struck even the author of that theory, John Eastman, as a nonstarter in any court. We heard that Rudy Giuliani admitted he had no evidence of significant fraud. Republicans who aided the president’s attempts sought pardons for themselves, hardly admissions of innocence. Among them, according to Hutchinson, was Meadows himself.

Maybe Hutchinson is lying, but she was under oath. Trump supporters may find it easy to dismiss Democrats like Adam Schiff or even anti-Trump conservatives like Judge J. Michael Luttig.

But Hutchinson is a source from within the inner sanctum. On Tuesday, she was a picture of credibility. If Meadows continues to refuse to testify to the committee, that credibility will be enhanced.

Which gets us to the headline:

Maybe this is where the cult of Trump will begin to crack.

Margaret Singer, a clinical psychologist who studied cults, noted that among the ways cults succeeded was by creating “a closed system of logic” and belief.

That, of course, has always been essential to Trump’s messaging. Either you love Trump or you are an enemy of the people. Either you want to Make America Great Again or you hate America. Either you accept that Trump is always right, even when he contradicts your deepest values — or when he contradicts himself — or you are deficient in loyalty to him and hatred of his enemies. Either you stick with Trump or you’re a Republican in name only, a RINO, and we know what Trump loyalists like Missouri’s Eric Greitens plan to do with RINOs.

All this was central to the Trump playbook. But after Tuesday, the threat of a legal indictment has become very real. The president may indeed be liable for seditious conspiracy, especially if he tried, via Meadows’s calls to Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, to reach out to extremist groups.

To Trump’s supporters, his name was all but synonymous with their sense of America. They saw in him a proudly raised middle finger to progressives who found more to fault than praise with the country. Now it doesn’t entirely compute.

I doubt there will be any sort of moment when the Sean Hannitys and Laura Ingrahams of the world will tell the faithful: We were wrong; we made an idol of the wrong man. But there may be a quiet drifting away. In a moment like this, that might be just enough.

John Podhoretz, “Trump Is In Deep, Deep, Deep, Deep Trouble,” Commentary

And here’s the rub for Trump. He has so far been protected by Meadows and Cippolone because they have refused to testify to the committee under claims of executive privilege—that Congress does not have the power to force them to speak about their direct conversations with the president or the actions they may have taken under his direct authority because the executive branch is not subordinate to the legislative branch. But they can testify if they choose. If they do not, they will, in essence, be allowing Hutchinson’s testimony to stand. If they do, and they do not say everything she said was a lie, her testimony will stand and be bolstered by them. And if they testify and say their recollections of the days were different, they will have to report in what way they were different—and will not be able to refuse to answer questions they find uncomfortable.

But if they do remain silent and Hutchinson’s testimony is not somehow rebutted, they can be made to testify if Attorney General Merrick Garland convenes a grand jury on the basis of the revelations of the January 6 committee and subpoenas them. Failure to testify under those conditions will lead to prison time.

Neither Podhoretz nor I are lawyers but I don’t think this is right. They could almost certainly plead the 5th unless offered immunity.

I did not think this day would come. I have said as much on our podcast many times. But as a result of the bombshells today, there’s no question now that Donald Trump is staring down the barrel of an indictment for seditious conspiracy against the government of the United States.

And I haven’t even gotten to the possible witness tampering!

As I said yesterday, the aftermath of Hutchinson’s testimony marked “the first time that I’ve thought it remotely possible that the former president would face federal charges for his role” in the riots. But, while I would certainly like to see him behind bars and his reputation forever ruined, it’s more important to me that we get the country back operating on a common set of facts and a basic respect for the rule of law and our institutions.

I was just shy of 11 when Gerald Ford conceded to Jimmy Carter in 1976, so don’t have clear memories of that. But I very much remember Carter’s gracious concession to Ronald Reagan in 1980. And George H. W. Bush’s to Bill Clinton in 1992.

Even after the extreme and divisive bitterness that marked the dispute over the election results in 2000, Al Gore ultimately did his part in helping the nation heal. And, unlike the others, he did so even though he’d gotten more votes than his opponent. Even though he didn’t like it, the Supreme Court ruled against him and the game was over. He was exceedingly gracious and kind about it, however much he seethed inside.

Trump was soundly defeated and tried to steal the election. And he’s convinced his supporters, against all evidence, that the outcome was somehow rigged—even though he lost states where those counting and certifying the contest were fellow Republicans.

If these hearings can break their illusion that Trump is a heroic figure—that, indeed, he’s a coward and a bully—maybe there’s a chance of restoring some semblance of normalcy to our politics.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Argon says:

    …it’s more important to me that we get the country back operating on a common set of facts and a basic respect for the rule of law and our institutions.”

    Ah, a world without Fox Corp. then.

    …and Facebook/Meta

  2. KM says:

    Maybe this is where the cult of Trump will begin to crack.

    Possibly but not the way we’d hope.

    It’s a face-saving offramp for those who recognize Trump is a huge liability but don’t particularly care to abandon MAGA or conservative principles. Trump’s constant portrayal among the cult is the Alpha Male Boss, He Who Humiliates and Owns. By having one of his own testify about literal tantrums and food throwing – that no one, not even FOX says is out of character – we’ve come to a point where they can shift their focus to the new icon He Who Uses the Law to Hurt Wokeness aka DeSantis. It wouldn’t cause much cognitive dissonance for them because they can still espouse MAGA and all its subsidiary hates, just quietly swap out the blue Trump flag for something else.

    It’s been happening for a while now. My ultra Trumpy neighbor who had 5 Trump related flags on their pole stopped flying them months ago. Now its the Gasden flag, QAnon, a football one, Thin Blue Line Flag (although that disappeared after Uvalde) and a pro-Ukrainian flag for some reason. He hasn’t changed one bit and will rant at length about wokeness and how liburls are running everything…. but you won’t find him with a single stitch of “Trump” anything anymore. I would not be surprised to see a DeSantis flag or Noem flag up there soon.

  3. Modulo Myself says:

    This hope seems remarkably naive. Trump didn’t create the Republican mess. He saw an opening and went for it. Right now, there’s no real possibility that the mess will get cleaned up or that anyone in the Republican party wants to clean it up.

    Getting rid of Trump will be at best great for Democrats holding onto the presidency, and maybe pushing back on the landslide this fall.

  4. CSK says:

    I see no diminishment in support for Trump at any of the crackpot sites such as

  5. BugManDan says:

    From the response that I heard from Trumpist relatives on FB, support for him is not changing. They aren’t watching and consider it a witchhunt. And dismiss any person testifying as either a RINO, out to save their own skin by lying, or paid off.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Typo alert: And George W. Bush’s to Bill Clinton in 1992.

    W. was elected in 2,000. His father George H. W. Bush lost to Clinton

    Fixed! -jhj

  7. steve says:

    I am not very optimistic about this. Maybe there is value in memorializing this. Certainly feels like the first invasion of the Capital in modern times deserved an investigation. That said, if the goal was to somehow affect Trump and his supporters i remain very skeptical. There is always a way to explain things. After almost 2 years and tons of investigations they still haven’t found and evidence of fraudulent votes and the very large majority of Republicans still believe the election was stolen. These people arent going to be persuaded just because they are presented with real evidence.


  8. SC_Birdflyte says:

    Given the probability that a jury impaneled for a Trump trial would include at least one diehard who will never, under any circumstances, vote to convict TFG, it makes me wish the Constitution didn’t include a prohibition on bills of attainder. If Congress were to consider one, limiting the punishment to permanent disqualification from seeking Federal office, even some Republicans might vote for it. It would be a legal means for making him go away.

  9. gVOR08 says:

    Pedantic proof reading note – George H. W. Bush.

    ETA: Ozark beat me by that much. And being pedantic, Ozark, no comma in years.

    Fixed! – jhj

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    To repeat myself,

    I don’t think I ever said the hearings would make no difference, but I felt that the hearings wouldn’t make any real difference in voting patterns. I still feel that way. At least in the immediate future. It may change things around the margins, but right now the country is too deeply divided for any kind of real shift.

    As far as the hearings being a waste of time, I never felt that way. They had to be done, history demanded at least that much. I do now feel a small spark of hope that in the years to come some people may be held to account, not that I have any idea of what form that may take.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    She testified to what she heard. Hearsay. (Admissibility isn’t an issue as the Committee is not a court and can’t jail anyone,) The SS guys may, or may not, actually contradict if put under oath. But they’d then have to answer questions about what did happen: Did Trump want to go to the Capitol? Who made the decision not to? Why? Why had no plan been made?

    There was some talking head discussion last night about some of the SS being strong Trump supporters. I don’t know that “Defund” is an appropriate response, but at some point we ought to at least recognize the authoritarian tendency of police agencies. Up to and including the FBI and DoJ.

  12. James Joyner says:


    She testified to what she heard. Hearsay.

    I am not a lawyer but that’s not hearsay. Testifying about what someone else told you, in order to get around their 5th Amendment protections (or the fact that they’re dead or otherwise unavailable to testify) is hearsay. This is eyewitness testimony.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: that’s not hearsay.

    A lot of lawyers say you’re right.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: I did not watch her testimony. My second hand understanding was that she heard someone, apparently one Tony Ornato, say Trump had grabbed for the wheel or the driver’s neck, or something. If she was in the SUV at the time, then no, not hearsay.

  15. Kathy says:


    Given the thin margins Biden obtained in some states, and thicker but still small margins by which Benito won some states, a small drop in support for the Orange Ass might be all it takes to keep him out of office for the rest of his life.

    This just leaves all the other would-be dictators to worry about.

  16. Kari Q says:

    I assumed that whether or not Trump actually tried to grab the steering wheel would be the single thing that his supporters cared about. All the more serious issues seem to have escaped their notice entirely.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    Refresh is really strange. At the moment I can see my own and Ozark’s replies to James’ comment, but not James’ comment. But I really came back to talk about reality, and differing views of same.

    Whether TFG lunged for the wheel or not is trivia, a minor, albeit entertaining, detail. But it will help, is already helping, the MAGAts deny the reality of the overall narrative. I was going to say “As long as it’s unproven it will help…” but then I realized it doesn’t matter. If there turns out to be video, once the question has been raised it will continue. They’ll still deny it. Some time ago I commented on wanting to find a Latin name for what I call the Fallacy of Perfection, the fallacy that if any flaw can be found, the whole argument is wrong. (There is the “Nirvana Fallacy”, which is similar, but not quite what I’m trying to get at.) Conservatives do this all the time. A current example is the Steele Dossier, which turns out to be exactly what it was purported to be, gossip and hearsay from Moscow, partly paid for by Hillary. But some of the hearsay is wrong, therefore Trump is pure as the driven snow and it’s all a Demoncrat plot. Also, the CDC didn’t perfectly handle an unprecedented and not well understood pandemic, so the CDC is evil and it’s all Fauci’s fault.

    No matter how it plays out, we’ll hear “lunged for the wheel” as a rationale for denying the whole 1/6 narrative.

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Paul L:
    Are they prepared to contradict the real story? That Trump demanded they take down the magnetometers? That he knew the crowd was armed? That he thought the idea of hanging Mike Pence was cool?

    No. So yell ‘squirrel’ all you like. The truth is out. Trump tried to murder his own Vice President and the Speaker of the House in a desperate attempt to overturn an election he lost by 7 million votes.

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    Everyone upstream get over the idea of some shattering breakthrough with the culties. The cult will dwindle, not suddenly disappear. And that is all we need. Now is the time to enjoy the intra-party bloodbath that will come when Trump gets scared and attacks DeSantis.

  20. Scott F. says:


    It wouldn’t cause much cognitive dissonance for them because they can still espouse MAGA and all its subsidiary hates, just quietly swap out the blue Trump flag for something else.

    I’m not so sure. I think of Republicans 2022 as strangely a sort of coalition. You’ve got the cult of personality Trumpists and the anti-libruls authoritarians banded together. It’s working in its perverted way because the “charismatic” (don’t ask me how or why) Trump was willing and eager to be the embodiment of the damn-the-rules fighter for white Christian power. But, if either faction of this coalition is diminished, there aren’t enough players to give Republicans power. The authoritarians need the charismatic cult leader to frenzy the base, while the cultists need powerful people willing to defy all laws and norms in order to own the libs politically. Neither DeSantis or Noem will draw the cultist like Trump. And if the Jan 6th hearings/AG Garland can attach serious consequences to breaking the rules, I don’t see either of them willing to be as lawless as Trump either.

  21. Scott F. says:

    @BugManDan & @Michael Reynolds:
    Until those refuting Hutchison take the step that she did and testify under oath before Congress, they can and should be easily dismissed.

    Besides, the audience for yesterday’s hearing wasn’t the Trump True-believers (like our local sycophant), it was AG Garland. Meadows’ claim of executive privilege evaporated yesterday, while Trump‘s intent was clarified. I‘m still skeptical that there will be senior level indictments, but significant barriers crumbled during yesterday‘s hearing.

  22. James Joyner says:

    @gVOR08: Ah. Yes, you’re right. There are things that she personally witnessed (the ketchup incident) and heard (the bits about the mags, etc.) but some of what she told the committee is indeed hearsay–stuff people told her happened but she didn’t personally witness. Some of the hearsay exception rules are sufficiently lawyerly that I can’t decipher them from simply reading them, so I don’t know whether one applies to that or not. But I presume others will be subpoenaed to corroborate.

  23. wr says:

    @Paul L.: Nice to see you’ll still repeat any crap you read.

    Here’s something to think about, chuckles — she testified under oath. The people who say she’s wrong or lying, won’t even say that directly to a reporter. They have a “source” repeat it instead.

    One of them made a claim under penalty of perjury, which comes with a prison sentence. The others are just spreading crap.

    What a shock to see which ones you believe.

  24. Kathy says:

    Public service: Wikipedia entry on Hearsay

    So, “He told me Benito lunged for the wheel,” is hearsay. “I overheard El Cheeto say to let armed people in,” is not.

  25. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Everyone upstream get over the idea of some shattering breakthrough with the culties.”

    Absolutely. People who believe the earth is flat are going to keep believing that no matter what.

    Of course the creeps at still swear by Trump. The site is for people who love Trump and think of his as their savior, or their god. They’re not going to change their minds. And if some of them do… they’re not going to be on anymore.

    There are people out their whose minds can be changed. But they’re harder to see… because they’re not publicly prostrating themselves in front of Dear Leader.

  26. wr says:

    @Kathy: “So, “He told me Benito lunged for the wheel,” is hearsay. “I overheard El Cheeto say to let armed people in,” is not.”

    It is hearsay. But according to her testimony, the car’s driver was in the room when she was told this story, and he didn’t object to any of it. Maybe it couldn’t be used in court, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

  27. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Paul L.:

    AR-15 are weapons of war

    The AR-15 is a glorified hunting rifle.

    Weapons of war would be the M-16, M83, AK-47, etc.

  28. Tony W says:

    @Paul L: I am confident that if Mr. Trump wanted to testify under oath before the committee, they would gladly invite him.

  29. MarkedMan says:


    if the goal was to somehow affect Trump and his supporters i remain very skeptical

    Sure, these people are unreachable. Oh, a tiny few might have a revelation but they will be a drop in the ocean. There are other, more realistic goals though. Put fear into those who may be contemplating such things in the future. Peal away some percentage of the mushy middle and glom them onto our side rather than theirs. Increase pressure on Garland to prosecute higher level people.

  30. Jay L Gischer says:

    My sense of how cults diminish is that they erode. Members find they have other priorities to consume their time, and they kind of drift off. Sometime you will see a “conversion experience” out of the cult, but often not, just a loss of energy. They just sort of erode away. Of course, they engage in socially sanctioned behavior – such as talking in the cult-approved manner – before then.

    Not to say they are a cult, but they share some qualities of a cult. Also, I’m not as expert on this as some are, just seen a lot of cults from the outside.

  31. MarkedMan says:

    Ah. I had forgotten about this particular trumper currently plaguing the comments section. I was about to bin him in my “ignore” file when he took a bizarre turn and suddenly tied in to men being falsely accused of sexual assault. Is this the same creep who was on here a while back and managed to turn every discussion into a howl of frustrated rage about how all the bitches be lyin’ and “men” were being falsely accused at every turn? The one who protested much, much too loudly?

  32. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner:

    I am not a lawyer but that’s not hearsay. Testifying about what someone else told you, in order to get around their 5th Amendment protections (or the fact that they’re dead or otherwise unavailable to testify) is hearsay. This is eyewitness testimony.

    It’s a little more complex than that. Some of what she did share was “hearsay” under a legal definition. The best example was the steering wheel story (she was relating a story she heard being told by someone who didn’t directly experience it). The accounts of things she directly witnessed (for example where she overheard Trump directly say something) was not hearsay.

    Here’s PopeHat aka Ken White (a former federal prosecutor) explaining the difference in terms that even a congressperson can relate to:

  33. Moosebreath says:

    “You know, I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me.”

    So Trump had zero concern for the lives and safety of anyone except himself. In other words, he is a perfect example of a psychopath.

    Not that this is telling us anything we didn’t know, but…

  34. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: Yes. He of “Duke Lacrosse” fame.

  35. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: It also depends what the statement is being used for. If the statement “He told me Benito lunged for the wheel” is being used to in fact, prove that TFG lunged for the wheel, it’s hearsay (unless admission against interest, bla bla bla…). If, however, the statement is being used to prove her statement of mind at the time, or the existence of the two of them being in communication with each other, or the fact that they were in the same room….

    You get the idea.

  36. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. There’s also the fact that statements which are hearsay can be used for other purposes, a.k.a. to impeach someone for having said the exact opposite earlier in a deposition, for example.

    P.P.S. I bet the committee is winding up to using Ms.Hutchinson’s comments to create a nutcracker around someone else.

  37. Jen says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I bet the committee is winding up to using Ms.Hutchinson’s comments to create a nutcracker around someone else.

    This is what it feels like to me too, particularly given Rep. Cheney’s closing statements. It felt very much like she was saying something along the lines of “anyone want to come back to ‘clarify’ their remarks?”

  38. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    It’s likely most people get their knowledge of the law from watching cop and lawyer shows. These may get things mostly right but 1) they do distort things for dramatic purposes, and 2) even when rigorous, they don’t go in depth into all the intricacies, exceptions, etc.

    So because you see the defense counsel say “Objection, hearsay!” and the judge throws the statement out, many will conclude all hearsay is false or wrong or worthless.

  39. CSK says:

    I think she did say that.

  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen: Oh, I thought he was banned. Guy really creeps me out. I can think of ten reasons why some dude gets fixated on that, and each one is worse than the last.

  41. JKB says:

    Having seen the Watergate hearings as they preempted all my after school television shows, I’m skeptical of this new media production 50 years on, this time without credible bipartisan representation.

    However, fifty years on and with document coming into public review, the “official” history of the Watergate hearings/prosecutions seems to be missing a lot of the “nuance.”

    Geoff Shepard, author of “The Nixon Conspiracy: Watergate and the Plot to Remove the President,” who was in the Nixon Whitehouse has been sorting through those documents and has even filed some complaints about the corrupt DOJ lawyers’ actions with the Office of Professional Responsibility.

    How is this related to the Jan 6 hearings. Well, the “a duty to history to document the event in as much detail as possible” will likely be found in the documents hidden away for 40+ years rather than what is being stage-managed and fed to what public is actually paying attention.

    After Watergate, voters elected Democrat Jimmy Carter, who oversaw a horrible economy, until voters switched back to a Republican four years later. Well, voters already went for Democrat Joe Biden, who is overseeing an economy that is getting much worse than 1977-81. And that was without the knowledge of the corrupt actions of the committee, the judge or the DOJ prosecutors.

  42. Mimai says:


    Re “Fallacy of Perfection”: Are you thinking of selective abstraction?

  43. wr says:

    @JKB: Yes, JKB, Watergate was all a Democratic frame-up to get the greatest president of all time until Trump and now those dirty Jews — oh, sorry, meant to use a right wing code word but accidentally gave the real meaning — are at it again, targeting Our Savior. And only JKB is wise and sober enough to understand.

    You just keep getting sadder and sadder.

  44. James Joyner says:

    @mattbernius: I misunderstood what @gVOR08 was claiming. But, yes, I’ve also unconsciously included the party opponent exception that White describes:

    “Now, say you were being sued for something — say, some sort of grotesque dereliction of duty for failing to report or stop the serial sexual abuse of people under your care — and a witness said ‘I told coach about it and he said ‘I have nothing to do with this.” That’s not hearsay either, because in that case you’re a party opponent and a statement of a party opponent is not hearsay. Just like first-hand witness testimony about what Trump said would be a statement of a party opponent in, say, a prosecution of Trump,”

    in my understanding of the concept. It would be absurd to exclude that sort of thing from testimony.

    Bank Teller: The defendant pointed a gun at me and said, “Stick ’em up! Put all the money in the sack and nobody gets hurt!”

    Defense Counsel: Objection, your honor! Hearsay!

  45. Kathy says:

    @Tony W:

    Well, is it a crime to lie to congress under oath? If so, no way Mangolini ever shows up.

    Aside from that, he’d be a nightmare witness. I doubt he’d answer any question, but would rather rant, rave, and throw tantrums. you know, what his followers regard as a show of strength.

    I don’t want to see Benito testify anywhere but in court, where no judge would let him showboat for his cult. Should he be stupid enough to take the stand to begin with.

  46. MarkedMan says:

    From Graeme Wood over at The Atlantic (no subscription necessary):

    Some people confront these facts and see a stone-cold political criminal. I see a lazy bastard who could not believe his luck—that he had yet again managed to get others to do what he dared not do himself. Maybe Trump will be charged, and maybe those charges will stick. My worry is that what saved American government from existential disaster was not its political institutions (which nearly collapsed) or the honor of its people (who were as nutty and bestial as any). It was the lassitude and cowardice of a single orange-tinted individual who spent most of the coup doing … nothing. The next bastard might not be quite as gutless.

    I’ve said, ad nauseam, that the most important thing to realize about Trump is that he is a moron. But a close second is that he is lazy. He never does any research. He never strives to understand the dynamics. He promises the moon, steals some suckers money, gets into a pissing match, walks away and sulks, and when he returns to the public scene he just ignores the latest disaster and launches into the next one. In the 80’s and 90’s more than one real NYC powerhouse all but said that they didn’t avoid Trump’s business deals because he was dishonest or manipulative or a nasty piece of work. All of that was true, but there are always ways for one shark to feed off the same kill as another. Rather, the reason they avoided him was that he was so petty and shortsighted that he always ended up screwing over everyone for the delight of it, with no tactical advantage to him, causing most of the money to be left on the table.

    I always felt that his cycle was 1) Promise the world and heap derision on everyone who came before him, 2) Burn up and steal any money that the suckers had foolishly given him control over 3) Gradually become aware in his reptile brain that he was, once again, in over his head, 4) Turn everything to sh*t so he could blame everyone else and dramatically walk away. He has repeated this cycle over and over and over again.

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Even his supporters are well aware of what it would mean for him to testify under oath. Just look at all the talk of “perjury trap” during his impeachment trials. It’s just amazing to think about. They concede out of the gate that Trump would likely commit perjury were he to testify, and then turn that around and say the only reason they want to interview him is to get him to commit perjury. The idea that he should tell the truth or take the fifth doesn’t even enter into their heads.

  48. Tony W says:

    @Kathy: I’m sure the committee would require it to be video-taped testimony – not live.

  49. JohnSF says:


    …Jimmy Carter, who oversaw a horrible economy….

    Indeed he did; but that does not mean he either caused those economic problems, or had the means to solve them.
    The inflation of the late 1970’s was set in train largely by the economic effects of financing the Vietnam War, and increased social programmes, without serious tax increases.
    A policy adopted by Johnson, it is true, but continued by Nixon, and not reversed by Ford.
    And the required tax increases were rejected by Congress under Carter.
    Then the interest rate increases needed to curb inflation unavoidably impacted growth.

    There are also the impacts of the oil supply crisis, the cyclical decline in relative competitiveness of US industry, the dollar depreciation etc.

    In many respects the “Reagan boom” was simply the inheritance of the Fed suppressing inflation, the energy and commodities squeezes fading, and the natural recovery of growth after interest rates etc.

    Though it is true that Reagan, by avoiding making major policy screw ups like Johnson and Nixon, enabled the benign economic climate to roll on subject to the usual short term hiccups) into his second term, and for that matter arguably until 2008.
    Unless one is troubled by the increasing debt level (which you really shouldn’t be; within limits) .

    There is a good case to be made that it was President Carter who in fact se the US on the road to recovery, and President Reagan who got the kudos for it.
    Headline based history is often prone to error.

    It is a historical fact that President Nixon actually did preside over an administration including some stupid crooks, even if he did not direct their activities, and that he attempted to conceal their activities when their incompetence dropped them into the arms of law enforcement and subsequent public attention.

    Trying to construe this as some sort of conspiracy against Nixon is silly.
    Nixon has some achievements to his credit; but also some major flaws; and he was the primary author of his own downfall.

  50. KM says:


    without credible bipartisan representation.

    And who’s fault is that?

    If you shoot yourself in the foot, you’ve got nobody else to blame.

  51. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Scott F.:
    The Secret Service agents who may (or may not) contradict the alleged wheel-grabbing incident are some of the same crew who Mike Pence would not allow to drive him on January 6 because he doubted their loyalty to their oaths and thought they might kidnap him.

  52. mattbernius says:


    Geoff Shepard…

    Huh, a member of the Nixon Defense team who writes for Conservative publishing orgs thought Watergate was not that bad. You don’t say. This is kinda like your citations of folks who write “according to slave owners, they treated their slaves far better than those abolitionists would lead you to believe.”

  53. BugManDan says:

    @Scott F.: I agree with this. I was mostly responding to what I took as the overall point of this post. That maybe this would finally sway some Trumpist, or at least those that would vote for Stalin if he ran against a person from the party of Clinton.

  54. Kathy says:


    I’m surprised no one blames Carter for the rise of the Taliban and al Qaida. He was the one who started the aid and support to Afghan guerrillas fighting the Soviet-backed government.

  55. Jay L Gischer says:

    Most people credit Paul Volcker, Chair of the Federal Reserve, for killing off the 70’s “stagflation” with some staggeringly high interest rates in the early 80’s, which caused a recession.

    Do you know who appointed Paul Volcker to the Fed, probably with the foreknowledge of what he might do?

    Do you?

  56. Tony W says:

    @Kathy: Carter legalized home beer brewing, thus making him the greatest president our nation has ever seen.

  57. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: He was the one who started the aid and support to Afghan guerrillas fighting the Soviet-backed government.

    Actually, the lion’s share of the blame belongs to Charlie Wilson, a 2nd rate GOP congressman from an east Texas district. (who had help from a socialite and a CIA agent). It was a policy wholly embraced by the Reagan administration

    It’s a great book and a movie was made based on it. I haven’t seen the movie but the cast has alot of Hollywood A listers: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Ned Beatty. It’s probably pretty good. I want to see it just for Hoffman’s take on the CIA agent Gust Avrakotos.

    Charlie Wilson was quite the character.

  58. CSK says:

    Stephen Breyer is retiring as of June 30, 2022.

  59. Jen says:

    Well, the SUV is stationary at this point, but someone’s managed to find video of Trump, seated behind the driver, lurching/leaning forward several times in, um, an animated fashion, on Jan. 6.

  60. Kathy says:


    Trevor Noah suggested the Secret Service should have trump-proofed the vehicle, in part by adding a toy steering wheel to the back seat.

  61. Grewgills says:

    Charlie Wilson was actually a Democrat.

  62. Jen says:

    @Grewgills: Yep! You beat me to it. He was a Dem, and a very colorful figure. The book was great.

  63. gVOR08 says:

    @Mimai: I appreciate the response. Selective abstraction is similar, but not what I’m trying to define and name. Selective abstraction is a cognitive fault. As I would understand it, failing to see many apparent things because of a focus on one negative thing. What I’m looking to name is similar to the Nirvana fallacy, which describes not accepting a flawed, but feasible, plan because of a better, but unrealistic, plan. An example might be not supporting Obamacare because you want Medicare for All.

    I’m looking for more of a logical fallacy. An example would be saying one woman in Toronto had to wait six months for a hip replacement, so the the U. S. health care system is better. Not a cognitive failure to see evidence in front of you, but a willingness to base a judgement on one isolated defect without considering other relevant facts. Maybe I should copyright it as The Cherry Picking Fallacy, also known as Societas Federalist argumenti.