We Now Know

After yesterday’s damning testimony, what more will it take for Trump’s supporters to choose their country over their leader?

Cassidy Hutchinson, a top former aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies.
Brandon Bell / Getty

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Yesterday, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide for Donald Trump’s chief of staff, provided a key piece of evidence connecting Trump to an attempted coup after the 2020 election. We will learn more in the days to come, but we know the most important things now.

First, here’s more from The Atlantic.

The Last Pieces

Sometimes, the sudden presentation of truth about a terrible thing—such as Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony—provides a kind of tipping point, where revelations finally move people from denial to acceptance. Think back to the Cold War, when Americans argued over whether the Soviet Union was as bad as the American government portrayed it. There were a lot of unanswered questions: Did the Soviets or the Nazis kill thousands of Poles in the Katyn Forest in 1940? Were the Rosenbergs really guilty of stealing atomic secrets? Indeed, a notable 1990 book even suggested that we might never know who really started the Korean War; there was enough blame to go around, and so we shouldn’t even ask the question.

When the Soviet Union fell, however, the Russians opened some of their classified archives, and we got answers to all these questions. (Stalin ordered the Polish killings; the Rosenbergs were guilty; the Soviets and the North Koreans started the Korean War.) The Yale historian John Gaddis summarized it all in the title of his 1997 book: We Now Know. These revelations made a lot of people embarrassed and angry—perhaps more so in the West than in Russia.

Which brings us to the work of the January 6 committee and Hutchinson’s testimony. From practically the moment he descended the escalator at Trump Tower in 2015, Trump’s supporters have been in denial about Trump’s emotional instability, his malignant narcissism, his fascination with violent rhetoric, and his hostility to the American constitutional order. But without a peek behind the Oval Office curtains, suspicions were only conjecture. We didn’t know for certain if Trump, after he lost in 2020, was trying to subvert the vote or seeking only to exhaust all his legal remedies. We didn’t know if he truly understood that the mob on January 6 he’d summoned was armed and dangerous. We didn’t know if he actually agreed with the chants to hang Mike Pence.

We now know.

Let’s leave aside the stories of Trump’s emotional derangement, such as his throwing food like a bratty toddler. It isn’t an actual violation of the Constitution to be a whiny, immature jerk.

Instead, Hutchinson’s testimony gives us the last pieces we needed to see the full picture of the most important story in modern presidential history. In six simple steps, here is what we now know so far from the January 6 committee, capped by Hutchinson’s testimony.

  1. Trump knew—or refused to hear—that he did not win in November 2020.

  2. Trump directed his loyalists to launch a barrage of schemes to invalidate the vote in multiple states.

  3. Trump tried to capture the Justice Department as part of his plan to overturn the election (and he nearly succeeded).

  4. Trump on January 6 aimed a violent crowd at his own vice president and the members of the Congress of the United States.

  5. Trump knew that this crowd was armed and dangerous.

  6. Trump wanted to personally lead the mob to stop the Congress from meeting and thus end the threat to his continued rule as president.

We now know what we need to know about Trump. These revelations should also convince millions of people who were willing to give Trump a second chance to rule that he is too mentally unstable ever to be allowed again near the machinery of government.

My Atlantic colleague Molly Jong-Fast is optimistic that the truth is getting through to the public. I am not so sure. Will Trump’s supporters and elected Republicans finally accept the truth? Have they finally heard enough? Or will they be like the last blinkered apologists for communism who went to their graves refusing to accept the magnitude of Stalin’s massacres or believing that the Soviet Union was framed for its crimes?

Unfortunately, I think I know the answer to all of these questions.

Further Reading:

Today’s News

  1. Sweden and Finland have been formally invited to join NATO, as the alliance promises more support to Ukraine.

  2. The journalist Maria Ressa said that the Philippine government ordered Rappler, her news organization, to be shut down. Rappler has exposed President Rodrigo Duterte’s disinformation campaigns and his administration’s use of violence.

  3. The Department of Health and Human Services is expanding availability of the monkeypox vaccine as part of a new vaccination plan.


The Weekly Planet: Corporate climate action has become a job perk, Robinson Meyer argues.

Evening Read

Izidor Ruckel near his home outside Denver
Benjamin Rasmussen

30 Years Ago, Romania Deprived Thousands of Babies of Human Contact

By Melissa Fay Greene

(From 2020)

For his first three years of life, Izidor lived at the hospital.

The dark-eyed, black-haired boy, born June 20, 1980, had been abandoned when he was a few weeks old. The reason was obvious to anyone who bothered to look: His right leg was a bit deformed. After a bout of illness (probably polio), he had been tossed into a sea of abandoned infants in the Socialist Republic of Romania.

Read the full article.

More From The Atlantic

Culture Break

Lauren and Cameron on Love Is Blind

Read. In Mieko Kawakami’s novel All the Lovers in the Night, each sentence is one you can feel.

Watch. Did you skip the Netflix show Love Is Blind when it came out? It’s worth returning to as comfortably familiar reality fare—but also as a radical treatise on the barriers to love in a screen-mediated, swipe-happy dating world.

Play our daily crossword.

Some readers who follow me on Twitter (where I am @RadioFreeTom) have noticed that on Saturdays, I post a lot of strange tweets about mostly forgotten 1970s pop-music hits. That’s because I and many other folks are listening to rebroadcasts of random years of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 on SiriusXM’s “70s on 7” channel. You should join us (at #AT40) if you want to listen along as we count how many times Kasem mentions that an artist is “from England!” or tells us a meandering story that only leads to some truly awful single. The music can be torture, but it’s still a nice break from the dismal political news.

—  Tom

Katherine Hu contributed to this newsletter.