Takeaway #2

A number of you have written in to say about the hearings, "No, that wasn't the big deal. This other thing was the big deal!" In almost every case I find myself agreeing with you. What it comes down to is there was just a huge amount of critical new detail in Hutchinson's testimony. And it was a challenge to evaluate the significance of it all in real time or organize it on a rank of significance. So TPM Reader KB notes that all the stuff about a war room at the Willard with Rudy and the top crazies starts appearing in a very, very different light if the plan was that Trump was going to go to the Capitol to in some sense lead the confrontation. It definitely seems like that wasn't just a possibility or something that was discussed but rather definitely Trump's plan and, one would imagine, what Rudy and his crew thought was going to happen.

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TPM Reader EG says that the real news was Giuliani's role in the prep for January 6th. "The story centered around Giuliani and the preparation on the 2nd, as well as the set-up at The Willard. Trump had a very well-developed reason for wanting to grab the wheel. Sitting in the White House for 3 hours now is seen as the best he could do, having been thwarted by his Secret Service chief."

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We have this sense that Trump was there in the Oval Office watching the TVs, having a predatory thrill seeing the mob terrorize the folks who'd abandoned him. But Hutchinson's testimony makes it seem like he was probably pissed because his Secret Service detail had ruined the whole plan. He was supposed to be up at the Capitol not stuck back at the White House.

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Many of the things we've learned are things we basically already knew or strongly suspected. The difference is new testimony which adds more confirmation, something more like proof. The idea that Trump was dead set on going to the Capitol wasn't my understanding of this at all. So that at least is pretty new to me.

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Having sat with this a bit now I think the biggest impact of this testimony may be something different and more general. Many of us have assumed that the committee's work will play out like this. They did their investigating. Now they are walking us through it in a series of hearings. The public will decide whatever they will decide. A report will be issued. And that's it.

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But the committee leaders have clearly been trying to use the public hearings to create a catalytic effect which furthers the investigatory process. Create a dynamic in which the impact of the hearings breaks loose more information, more testimony, more evidence. So the hearings become not just an account of what was found but a tool for advancing the investigation. They are already very focused on getting Pat Cipollone to testify.

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We have all gotten used to how much the GOP and official Washington can absorb and normalize about Trump's conduct and criminal behavior. But in this testimony today I think the committee may have gotten there. I'm not sure Meadows, Cipollone and others are going to be able to continue refusing to testify. The committee has also increased pressure on the DOJ, though we don't know just what DOJ already had in the works. The pace had seemed to be quickening on that front before today. The law enforcement side of this remains largely a black box. But on the committee investigation I think they've put the holdouts back on their heels.

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