Donald Trump was an unusual candidate in 2016, but there was one trait that truly separated him from the pack: An obsessive focus on violence. And not just any violence, but violence outside the confines of the law.
On Tuesday, a surprise witness, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, painted a picture of a president whose longtime violent revenge fantasies became fully realized on January 6th, on both a personal and political level.
She said Trump was not only aware supporters were carrying weapons at the rally, but angrily demanded they be allowed to enter his event without being searched and said that “they can march to the Capitol from here.”
She recounted hearing that an enraged Trump had tried to grab the steering wheel from, and possibly lunged at the “clavicle” of a Secret Service agent in order to join supporters at the Capitol.
She recalled hearing White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows relay that Trump agreed with rioters chanting “Hang Mike Pence” as they tried to overturn the election results by any means necessary.
She described Trump as personally violent and unhinged on multiple occasions, throwing dishes when angry.
Trump denied these incidents in a series of statements. But lending credibility to her testimony, almost everything she described had an obvious corresponding moment in Trump’s career.
Among other examples:
- Trump famously encouraged supporters to attack protestors, even suggesting he’d pay their legal bills. and saying he’d like to punch a protestor in the face.
- He talked about illegally ordering torture and committing unspeakable war crimes before screaming crowds.
- He warned, “I think you’d have riots” if Republicans denied him the nomination.
- He survived the release of a video in which he bragged about committing sexual assault.
- He ominously suggested that “Second Amendment people” might prevent Hillary Clinton from appointing judges.
- As president, he warned “it would be very bad, very bad” if the “tough people” who supported him were pushed too far by the left.
- He publicly refused to commit to accepting a peaceful transfer of power.
- Asked in a debate about potential violence from far right supporters, like the Proud Boys, he said they should “stand back and stand by.” Their members have since been charged with seditious conspiracy for their role in 1/6.
This was a dark place that Trump alone was willing to go among his political rivals when he first emerged as a candidate. Even his most conservative opponents condemned his rhetoric and warned it could lead to real-world violence, though many later dropped their concerns and became prominent supporters.
Hutchinson’s testimony would suggest they had it right the first time. These violent delights have violent ends.