WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 2022
Tapper, Gangel get it right: Did Donald J. Trump know that violent groups were going to invade the Capitol Building on January 6? Had that been a part of the plan?
Way back when, we identified that as the one question which remains concerning Trump's behavior and intent. Had he actually planned for the violence with these groups? Inquiring minds needed to know.
Last night, Jake Tapper and Jamie Gangel engaged in some heretical conduct. Speaking on CNN, they said that, in their view, this question still hasn't been answered.
In our view, Donald J. Trump seems to be badly disordered. But did he plan for the violence which occurred on January 6?
On this point, we agree with Tapper and Gangel. As we noted yesterday afternoon, we thought the latest hearing by the January 6 Committee failed to establish this point. Indeed, we thought the committee failed to take us where they'd suggested they would.
Earlier, speaking with Cassidy Hutchinson, the committee had whetted our appetite. They'd floated testimony in which Hutchinson said that Mark Meadows may have communicated with the "war room" at the Willard Hotel on the evening of January 5.
(For the relevant transcript, see below.)
Within the novels our blue tribe constructs, this suggested nefarious intent—guilt—on Meadows' part. But what did Meadows actually say if he did speak to the war room?
What did Meadows actually say if he spoke to the war room? During the hearing with Hutchinson, no evidence of that was supplied.
Through such means as that possible call to the war room, was "the Trump orbit" conspiring with such violent groups as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys? Was Trump's chief of staff planning for a violent assault on the Capitol?
Everything is possible! But nothing is fact till it's shown.
Yesterday, we were struck—and disappointed—by the way the committee avoided this general question. Earlier teases were set aside. As a general matter, the war room was disappeared.
This doesn't mean that there wasn't a conspiracy to engage in violence; it simply means that no such conspiracy has been shown. And to their credit, Tapper and Gangel noted this fact at roughly 8:20 last night.
Following a "hang him high" statement by Norm Eisen, their brief exchange went like this:
TAPPER (7/12/22): I have to say, though, and Jamie, I'm interested in what you think, I don't doubt that there were shenanigans with the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, and I see tenuous connections. But I have not seen enough evidence to know that, you know, that that was—that part of it was criminal intent, that Trump knew that these far-right militia groups were coming because of what he said. And you know what I mean? Like, there's a lot of circumstantial evidence about it.
GANGEL: I completely agree. We know that was, that the Proud Boys were acting as security guards—
TAPPER: Oath Keepers.
GANGEL: Oath Keepers, for Roger Stone. But I would say that, in general, the committee has underpromised and overdelivered. This was the one hearing where they said there was going to be a link with the Trump orbit. I didn't see it.
TAPPER: See you all again, shortly.
In Gangel's view, this was the hearing "where [the committee] said there was going to be a link with the Trump orbit" and those violent groups.
"I didn't see it," Gangel said. Tapper had voiced the same point.
In our view, Donald J. Trump is deeply disordered. As disordered people will do, he often surrounded himself with The Crazies—with Giuliani, Powell and Flynn.
His conduct had been bizarre—and grossly unacceptable—for at least seven years by this point. But was there a conspiracy between "the Trump orbit" and the Proud Boys / Oath Keepers coalition?
We thought that topic would be addressed yesterday. We were surprised—and disappointed—when it wasn't.
In closing, we offer you this:
In our view, Donald J. Trump is deeply disordered. That said, various elements of the upper-end press corps have long been journalistically disordered too.
For years, they chased after Clinton, Clinton and Gore. As a result of this group misconduct, Samuel Alito sits on the Supreme Court and Roe v. Wade is dead.
Today, they're uniform in their loathing of Trump—and they tend to jump beyond what they've actually shown in their pursuit of him. Dating to the Clinton / Gore / Clinton years, this is the way they tend to play the game once a target has been chosen.
Their novelizing is endless and far-reaching. Yesterday, their novelizing was on wide display.
(We've been especially struck by the way they keep putting their thumbs on the scales concerning Meadows' conduct. It would take far too long to explain any of this.)
That said, our tribe is currently on their side. We're happy when they cut their many corners to hand us the simplified stories we like.
We simply love our tribal novels. Being "human all too human," we don't notice—and we're happy— when corners are sanded, shaved, cut.
A pair of background transcripts: Last evening, the exchange between Tapper and Gangel followed a presentation by Norm Eisen.
Eisen is, for better or worse, a CNN legal analyst. In this presentation, he engaged in the conduct typical of this large "cable news" class:
EISEN (7/12/22): Jake, we heard from Cassidy Hutchinson at the last hearing about Trump's violent intent—intent is so important in criminal cases, his violent intent on January 6th.
They built a bridge today, from December 14, when, as we heard from Pat Cipollone, we see now why they wanted him and so many others, the legal avenues were exhausted.
He had a turning point on December 18th in this meeting. He chose the road of Team Crazy and then, December 19th, "Will be wild." That shows intent of the violence that we ultimately got on January 6th. We got a lot of premeditation, all of the planning.
So I think they added to the quantum of evidence. They're moving towards proof beyond a reasonable doubt of crime in these hearings.
Dating back through the Mueller years, the "hangin' prosecutors" of cable news have persistently assured us that criminal indictments of Trump are right around the corner.
Trump's next crime is always visible to these pundits. Over time, their conduct has helped us understand why our prisons sometimes seem to be full of innocent people.
Eisen isn't a former prosecutor, but he tends to play one on TV. In that statement, he's saying that Trump's one tweet, "Will be wild," somehow shows that he wanted the violent assault on the Capitol Building. This follows the creed of this intrepid breed:
In all cases, every item will establish the target's guilt.
Eisen drew a ton of meaning—a ton of intent—from that three-word tweet. The debunking exchange between Tapper and Gangel followed Eisen's statement.
Concerning Meadows and the war room, here's an exchange between Liz Cheney and Cassidy Hutchinson from the previous hearing. Warning to us lovestruck liberals! The fact that Cheney makes a statement doesn't prove that the statement is true:
CHENEY (6/28/22): The night before January 6th, President Trump instructed his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to contact both Roger Stone and Michael Flynn regarding what would play out the next day. Ms. Hutchinson, is it your understanding that President Trump asked Mark Meadows to speak with Roger Stone and General Flynn on January 5th?
HUTCHINSON: That's correct. That is my understanding.
CHENEY: And Ms. Hutchinson, is it your understanding that Mr. Meadows called Mr. Stone on the 5th?
HUTCHINSON: I'm under the impression that Mr. Meadows did complete both a call to Mr. Stone and General Flynn the evening of the 5th.
CHENEY: And do you know what they talked about that evening, Ms. Hutchinson?
HUTCHINSON: I'm not sure.
CHENEY: Is it your understanding that Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Eastman, and others had set up what has been called, quote, a war room at the Willard Hotel on the night of the 5th?
HUTCHINSON: I was aware of that the night of the 5th.
CHENEY: And do you know if Mr. Meadows ever intended to go to the Willard Hotel on the night of the 5th?
HUTCHINSON: Mr. Meadows had a conversation with me where he wanted me to work with Secret Service on a movement from the White House to the Willard Hotel so he could attend the meeting or meetings with Mr. Giuliani and his associates in the war room.
CHENEY: And what was your view as to whether or not Mr. Meadows should go to the Willard that night?
HUTCHINSON: I had made it clear to Mr. Meadows that I didn't believe it was a smart idea for him to go to the Willard Hotel that night. I wasn't sure everything that was going on at the Willard Hotel, although I knew enough about what Mr. Giuliani and his associates were pushing during this period. I didn't think that it was something appropriate for the White House Chief of Staff to attend or to consider involvement in, and made that clear to Mr. Meadows.
Throughout the afternoon, he mentioned a few more times going up to the Willard Hotel that evening, and then eventually dropped the subject the night of the 5th and said that he would dial in instead.
According to Hutchinson, Meadows had wanted to go to the Willard; in the end, he may have "dialed in" instead. But what had Meadows planned to say when he went there?
Within our tribe, we were encouraged to assume that he wanted to say the worst. No evidence was offered to establish that point—and yesterday, this whole well-teased avenue completely disappeared.
We were disappointed by that. But when Tapper and Gangel noted this fact, we'd say they got it right!
Did Donald J. Trump plan, conspire, for the violence which occurred?
In our view, that hasn't been established yet. Whatever the truth may turn out to be, we hope the committee delves further.