Cassidy Hutchinson burst into tears of joy the day she was admitted to the White House Internship Program in the summer of 2018. The 22-year-old was passionate about politics, power and public service. She had already been an intern at the US Capitol and her goal was to “pursue a path of civic significance.” She had no idea that she would later become the star witness of the House select committee investigating the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Nor that her testimony would provide damning evidence against her former boss, then-president Donald Trump.
Hutchinson revealed on Tuesday that Trump himself was willing to lead the armed mob that marched on Capitol Hill to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory, and even tried to relax security measures. Her statement, along with other testimonies heard by the January 6 committee, may help facilitate the eventual prosecution of the former president. According to her account, even the White House’s main legal adviser at the time, Pat Cipollone, was aware of the risk. “We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen,” Hutchinson recalled Cipollone saying.
In her testimony, Hutchinson also provided a powerful image of Trump’s anger: ketchup dripping down the wall of the White House dining room. According to the former White House aide, when Trump’s own attorney general, William Barr, reported on December 1, 2020, that there was no evidence of voter fraud in Biden’s victory. the Republican threw his lunch against the wall. “I first noticed there was ketchup dripping down the wall and there was a shattered porcelain plate on the floor,” she said.
The weeks leading up to the January 6 siege were frantic, and Cassidy Hutchinson saw the chaos first hand. Despite her youth and lack of experience, her office in the White House was very close to the Oval Office.
Hutchison testified for hours in four closed-door recorded sessions with the members of the investigating committee, and on Tuesday, solemnly appeared on Capitol Hill. Dressed in a white jacket, she spoke in a low, tenuous voice, as if she were sad. While she appeared nervous at first, Hutchinson answered all questions confidently and without hesitation. She heaved a few sighs. After testifying, she left the room with a somewhat lost look and a sad expression.
A few days ago, Cass, as her friends call her, was completely unknown to the general public. Now she has become a celebrity, for better and for worse. For some, she is a kind of anonymous hero, a woman who speaks honestly and is true to her ideals – one congressman called her “encouraging and inspiring.” But for others, she is a liar in search of fame. Trump’s supporters have been harassing her on social media, dubbing her Amber Heard 2.0, after actress Amber Heard who recently lost a defamation case against her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, in a controversial ruling.
Hutchinson was born in 1996 in Pennington, a small town in inland New Jersey where she attended high school. She studied political science at the small public university of Christopher Newport, in the town of Newport News, on the coast of Virginia, about three hours by car south of Washington. Her interest in politics led to a scholarship at the Capitol, and also she interned for Republican Senator Ted Cruz and the House Republican Whip Steve Scalise.
Her big break came in 2018 when she was admitted to the White House Internship Program. “Interning on Capitol Hill confirmed my desire to continue a path in government, and when I learned about the White House internship I was eager to apply,” she said in 2018 in an interview conducted by her university magazine.
“As a first-generation college student, being selected to serve as an intern alongside some of the most intelligent and driven students from across the nation – many of whom attend top universities – was an honor and a tremendous growing experience,” she said.
In the interview, she described the highlights of the experience, such as watching the presidential helicopter take off from the window of her office, attending law-signing ceremonies and being invited to see Trump announcements. “I’m keeping every opportunity at my fingertips and am open to any job that comes my way,” she said.
Months later she would return to the White House, but no longer as an intern. In March 2019, she was back in the West Wing as an adviser to the president for legislative issues, where she established a good relationship with Mark Meadows, who was appointed White House chief of staff a year later. Meadows trusted her and soon Hutchinson became his close confidant, rising quickly up the ladder. Although she was just a twentysomething graduate, she oversaw the legislative agenda, and met with senators and representatives with enormous political clout and decades of experience.
Hutchinson campaigned for Trump’s re-election. Like other witnesses who testified before the committee, she was an enthusiastic supporter of the then-president. In addition to her photo as a White House intern, she was also photographed dancing with then-White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany in Swanton, Ohio, where Trump had attended a campaign rally.
She gave her all to the cause. For her, it was like a dream, a dream that was shattered just like the porcelain plate Trump threw against the wall.