Rep. Jamie Raskin says Cassidy Hutchinson is a very credible witness
A MARTINEZ, HOST:
All right. Here to talk more about these new details is Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland. He's a member of the January 6 committee. And he's on the line with us now. Congressman, Cassidy Hutchinson gave some compelling testimony yesterday. Some of it, though, such as what happened in the limo, she did not witness. She heard it from someone else. Does the committee have any evidence to confirm what she says happened in that limo?
JAMIE RASKIN: Well, we have multiple reports that the president was extremely angry and irate about not being able to go on the march, you know? He wanted not just to incite and exhort these people, but he wanted to be in their midst, Mussolini style, to arrive at the Capitol. So that's well-corroborated. And she, of course, testified under oath. She had no reason to make that story up. And I consider her a 1,000% credible witness - you know, a longtime Republican aide who worked on Capitol Hill for Steve Scalise, was Mark Meadows' top aide. And she had an office in between President Trump and Mark Meadows himself.
So look; if there are other people who have other evidence or something to say, they want to come forward under oath, we are all ears. They can come forward. But right now, the critical thing for me is her testimony that then-President Trump knew that the crowd had weapons. And there was testimony that there were knives, firearms, even AR-15s that had been brought and were observed by police officers that day. And Donald Trump just wanted to wave them on through, take down the metal detectors and allow them to further swell the crowd. And, you know, when it was pointed out to him, apparently, that, you know, this could be a danger, he said, basically, these people are not here to harm me. So what mattered was his own personal security.
RASKIN: He didn't care what they might do to the police officers.
MARTINEZ: Congressman, Hutchinson testified that on the morning of the insurrection, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told her to make sure that we don't go up to the Capitol. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen. Do you want to hear from Pat Cipollone on what crimes he thought they'd get charged with?
RASKIN: Well, absolutely. I mean, you know, he was the White House counsel, who was apparently doing what he could to contain this ungovernable president and to have him follow the rule of law. But he was essentially saying there would be no hopes of defending Trump against any crimes if he actually got into the crowd himself. At least he would have a little bit of physical distance if he didn't go on the final march. Although, from a legal perspective, it's hard to see what difference that makes for a whole bunch of crimes given that you don't have to be physically present...
RASKIN: ...For, you know, a bunch of the ones that have been invoked. But I think we need to have Pat Cipollone come forward. We really need to have Mark Meadows come forward. Look; we saw yesterday a very brave young woman of a lot of character who came forward to tell us the truth. And we would expect nothing less of her elders and her boss.
MARTINEZ: Are you going to send a formal invitation to Mark Meadows and Pat Cipollone?
RASKIN: You know, the committee has a standing open invitation to anyone to come forward. And we've been in touch with the different key characters. And so, you know, people know how to find us. And we know how to find them.
MARTINEZ: This past Sunday, Congressman, in an interview, you said that criminal charges for Donald Trump or anyone else involved with trying to overturn the 2020 election were not your principal interest. If not, then, Congressman, what are these hearings for?
RASKIN: Well, again, I'm speaking personally there. I mean, I - you know, as much as I would like to see individual criminal accountability for every single person who committed offenses, my primary interest is in saving our republic and defending democratic institutions and fortifying ourselves against coups, insurrections, political violence and attempted electoral fraud going forward into the future. That's the critical thing for me. And I wasn't saying that wasn't important. I'm saying that's the Department of Justice's job. We don't have the power to prosecute anyone. But we do have the power to educate the Congress, which is our charge, and to educate the public about the massive threats that are still out there today.
I mean, Judge Luttig, who, of course, is a hero to conservatives, pointed out that the exact same kind of threats, political threats, are bearing down on us for the 2024 election. And that would be true of all elections going forward if we don't deal with this problem.
MARTINEZ: So Congressman, just really quick, are you hoping then that at this point, Attorney General Merrick Garland will bring charges?
RASKIN: Look; I want to see justice done in all of these cases. I think that's critical. And I know there's a great public hunger for it. And we will also be making recommendations about the legislative changes that we need in order to stop these authoritarian assaults on our democracy.
MARTINEZ: That's Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat out of Maryland, member of the January 6 committee. Thank you very much for your time.
RASKIN: Pleasure to be with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.