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Opinion Distinguished person of the week: She showed her party what patriotism is

Cassidy Hutchinson testifies before the House Jan. 6 select committee on June 28. (Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
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It’s appropriate that Cassidy Hutchinson, just days before the country celebrates the revolutionary document to which American patriots pledged their lives, appeared before the House Jan. 6 select committee to display uncommon bravery, honor and honesty.

As Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), vice chair of the committee, said at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on Wednesday, the 25-year-old top aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows provided quite a contrast with her timorous bosses. “Her superiors, men many years older, a number of them are hiding behind executive privilege, anonymity and intimidation," Cheney said. “But her bravery and patriotism were awesome to behold.” Indeed.

Despite pressure, intimidation and right-wing media attacks, Hutchinson stepped forward to do her duty and testify under oath (unlike her scurrilous critics at the Secret Service who demanded that reporters keep their identities secret). She was the perfect witness — not prone to exaggeration or self-congratulation. Her vivid recollections, punctuated by memorable details such as her catatonic boss staring at his phone on his couch, provided a gripping account of the coup that Donald Trump and his senior officials attempted.

“As an American, I was disgusted,” she recalled regarding Trump’s tweet during the attack on the Capitol calling his vice president cowardly for not rejecting electoral votes. “It was unpatriotic. It was un-American. We’re watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie.”

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She spoke for tens of millions of Americans with that statement. Disgust is also appropriate for the behavior of Meadows, former deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. They all had direct evidence of the worst betrayal by a president in American history, yet so far they have not done the right thing for their country and testified.

Cipollone is a lawyer, for goodness’ sake. Does he feel no professional obligation or moral duty to do what someone about half his age — without any of the resources and connections he enjoys — did to defend the rule of law and the Constitution? Perhaps the wrong person has a law license.

We have come to the outlandish part of the Jan. 6 investigation where witnesses, including attorneys, are comfortable ignoring subpoenas and taking the Fifth. In other words, they are doing whatever they need to protect themselves at the expense of the truth and our democracy.

We saw from testimony provided by Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss how a mob can destroy the lives of Americans. The mob’s eagerness to employ violence and create mayhem on Trump’s behalf brings to mind street thugs serving European fascists of the 1930s. The mob threatened people who dared stand up to the cult leader. The mob intimidated them, invaded their homes, terrorized their relatives and smeared them on social media. Meanwhile, Trump beamed as the mob defended him. He seems to think his opponents — including Mike Pence — “deserve” whatever comes their way.

So naturally, Meadows, Cipollone, Ornato and even Pence hide behind Hutchinson’s skirt (or her business-professional pantsuit). They expect to enjoy the benefits that American democracy affords them without sacrificing one iota on its behalf. Let the little people — the Freemans, Mosses and Hutchinsons — do the hard work of defending our freedom while they stay in the MAGA crowd’s good graces and pursue their careers.

Hutchinson served in a White House and in a party debased and corrupted by lies, greed and selfishness. But when it mattered, when it was up to her, she did the right thing. She earned her place alongside other truth-telling patriots whom Trump and his crowd vilified, such as Cheney and retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. For telling the truth and answering her country’s call when others refused, we can say, well done, Ms. Hutchinson.

Have a safe and celebratory Fourth of July. I’ll be back on Tuesday.

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