At the 1/6 Hearings, Trump the Troll Is Getting a Taste of His Own Medicine

“Can I say a word about Vice President Pence? I think the vice president did the right thing, I think he did the courageous thing,” former White House attorney Pat Cipollone saidYesterday’s January 6 House Select Committee hearing via videotape. “I think he did a great service to this country. I suggested to someone he should get the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his actions.”

So Donald Trump, Master Troll was himself trolled to and from the Oort Cloud by his own damn lawyer right there on live TV. Can you imagine the reaction? One of the Mar-a-Lago slobs might write a book one day with some information about how it was done. Trump turned into Armus from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” when he heard Cipollone suggest that medal for Pence. Of course Trump saw it, because of course he’s watching, because of course he is. Oh, the humanity.

Yesterday’s session was filled with moments like this. These hearings’ organizers have pulled off a clever trick: 1. They are clear and understandable for the general public. They are easy to understand by Attorney General Merrick Garland. They are simply incredible entertainment. The average congressional hearing can leave one feeling like they are sinking slowly to the bottom of an ocean, to quote Harper Lee. These ain’t those. These are something else. Former White House Aide Cassidy Hutchinson set the standard some weeks back, and yesterday’s gathering rose to that benchmark with cool gusto.

The world has long known about Trump’s post-midnight December 19 “Be there, will be wild!” exhortation to his followers. This was for many. prima facieThere is evidence that Trump was involved in planning the January 6 insurrection well before it happened. On Tuesday, the hearing clarified the context of that fateful tweet and the timing. It turns out to have been one of the most undistilled mayhem stories ever told in American politics. Rep. Jamie Raskin called it “the stuff of legend.” There was this Oval Office meeting on the night of the 18, you see, and… well, let The Washington Post tell it:

Late on a Friday night about six weeks after Donald Trump lost his reelection, a fistfight nearly broke out in the White House between the president’s fired national security adviser and a top White House aide. A motley crew of unofficial Trump advisers had talked their way into the Oval Office and an audience with the president of the United States to argue the election had been stolen by shadowy foreign powers — perhaps remotely via Nest thermostats….

Even for a White House that is known for its chaotic nature, the Dec. 18, 2020 meeting was an extraordinary moment. It showed how Trump invited fringe players who advocate radical action into his inner circle, as he sought a way to stay in office despite losing an election. “The west wing is UNHINGED,” declared Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, in a text message sent as the meeting unfolded.

Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D.Md.) said that the endless shouting match was absurd.A member of the committee. But nevertheless, the night was “critical,” he argued, since it provided a forum for Trump to watch as his own advisers shot down, one by one, the false theories to which he had been clinging in hopes of staying in office.

As Trump’s attorneys nearly came to blows with some of the meeting’s participants — among them being the deeply erratic Michael Flynn, the U.S.’s worst lawyer Sidney Powell, the mossy stump formerly known as Rudy Giuliani, and guy Patrick Byrne, maybe because the MyPillow guy was indisposed — Trump was raked repeatedly with the impossible nature of his position. Giuliani, the other participants, were not having it. However, Cipollone and Eric Herschmann, a White House attorney, didn’t waver: The law has no bearing on what is being proposed.

Not long after that meeting concluded, Trump sent the “will be wild!” tweet to his followers, confirming which side of the bread he had chosen to butter. The case against him has been made, which means it’s just about time for Trump’s allies to switch gears on their defense. No more denial and delay! according to Committee Co-Chair Liz Cheney:

Now it seems that Trump was being manipulated outside of his administration. That he was persuaded to ignore his closest advisers, and that he was incapable of telling right from wrong…. Trump is a 76 years old man. He is not an immature child. Like everyone else in America, he is responsible to his own actions and decisions. As our investigation has shown us, Donald Trump had access more specific and detailed information that showed that the election was not stolen than almost any other American. This was repeated over and over. This information is indisputable and no rational or sane man can ignore it. Donald Trump cannot avoid responsibility by being willfully blind.

Representative Cheney was the co-chair and he didn’t let the curtain go without leaving a ticking bomb at the center of the stage. It seems Mr. Trump has been a naughty boy who has personally tried to manipulate — read “intimidate” — at least one committee witness. “After our last hearing,” Cheney said on Tuesday, “President Trump tried to call a witness in our investigation, a witness you have not seen in these hearings. That person declined to answer or respond to President Trump’s call and instead alerted their lawyer to the call. Their lawyer alerted the Department of Justice, and this committee provided the information. Let me say one more time: We will take any effort to influence witness testimony very seriously.”

Uma Thurman’s immortal words from Pulp Fiction, “I said Goddamn! Goddamn… Goddamn.” That’s, like, a whole new horizon of legal trouble… witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and it sounds for all the world like they have him dead bang cold on it. These hearings were not the first. brought forth vivid evidence of witness tampering, either. I said Goddamn, Merrick Garland. Goddamn. Goddamn.

Any review of yesterday’s events would be incomplete without noting something that went down away from the hearing room. Former Trump National Security Advisor John “I-Will-Drink-Human-Blood-in-Tehran-Before-I-Die” Bolton was on CNNDiscuss how difficult and complicatedThe average coup can be. Host Jake Tapper opined, “One doesn’t have to be brilliant to attempt a coup.” To which Bolton replied, “I disagree with that. As somebody who has helped plan coup d’États, not here, but other places, it takes a lot of work.”

Not here, but other places — OH WELL THAT’S FINE THEN. Bolton and Henry Kissinger need to play a bracing game of Scrabble to see who can score the most points with words like “abattoir,” “bloodlust,” “genocidal” and “slaughter.” My money’s on Kissinger, but just barely.

The next hearing was scheduled to take place tomorrow, but the committee bounced it into next week, presumably to buy time for all the new areas of investigation and questioning created by Pat Cipollone’s recent interview. “I think that Cipollone’s testimony has opened up a number of different avenues,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, who described the hearing next week as “a profound moment of reckoning for America.”

It is impossible to speak to the impact these hearings may come to have; it’s an open question with too many moving parts (and one seemingly immobile part named Garland, but I digress). We can’t even begin to assume that their revelatory nature will result in a true reckoning for the country… but goddamn, I’m still going to miss these things when they’re gone.