This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas and recommends the best in culture. Register here.
Yesterday, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Donald Trump’s chief of staff, provided key evidence linking Trump to a post-2020 election coup attempt. We’ll learn more in the days to come, but we now know the most important things.
First, here’s more Atlantic.
Sometimes the sudden presentation of the truth about a terrible thing – like Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony – provides a kind of tipping point, where revelations finally move people from denial to acceptance. Think back to the Cold War, when Americans argued over whether the Soviet Union was as bad as the US government had portrayed it. There were many unanswered questions: Did the Soviets or the Nazis kill thousands of Poles in the Katyn Forest in 1940? Were the Rosenbergs really guilty of stealing atomic secrets? Indeed, a remarkable book from 1990 even suggested that we may never know who really started the Korean War; there was enough blame for everyone, and so we shouldn’t even ask the question.
When the Soviet Union fell, however, the Russians opened up some of their classified archives, and we got answers to all those questions. (Stalin ordered the Polish killings; the Rosenbergs were guilty; the Soviets and North Koreans started the Korean War.) Yale historian John Gaddis summed it all up in the title of his 1997 book: We now know. These revelations embarrassed and angered many people, perhaps more in the West than in Russia.
Which brings us to the January 6 committee proceedings and Hutchinson’s testimony. From virtually the moment he stepped off the Trump Tower escalator in 2015, Trump supporters have denied Trump’s emotional instability, his malignant narcissism, his fascination with violent rhetoric and his hostility to the constitutional order. American. But without a peek behind the curtains in the Oval Office, suspicion was just guesswork. We weren’t sure if Trump, after losing in 2020, was trying to overturn the vote or was just seeking to exhaust all legal remedies. We don’t know if he really understood that the January 6 mob he had summoned was armed and dangerous. We didn’t know if he actually agreed with the chants to hang Mike Pence.
We know now.
Leave aside stories of Trump’s emotional upset, like him throwing food around like a bratty toddler. It’s not a real violation of the Constitution to be a whiny, immature jerk.
Instead, Hutchinson’s testimony gives us the final pieces we needed to get the full picture of the most important story in modern presidential history. In six simple steps, here’s what we now know so far about the Jan. 6 panel, crowned by Hutchinson’s testimony.
Trump knew – or refused to hear – that he hadn’t won in November 2020.
Trump ordered his loyalists to launch a barrage of schemes to invalidate the vote in several states.
Trump tried to capture the Justice Department as part of his plan to void the election (and he almost succeeded).
On January 6, Trump led a violent mob against his own vice president and members of the United States Congress.
Trump knew this crowd was armed and dangerous.
Trump wanted to personally lead the crowd to prevent Congress from meeting and thus end the threat to his continued power as president.
We now know what we need to know about Trump. These revelations should also convince millions of people who were willing to give Trump a second chance at government that he is too mentally unstable to be allowed near the machinery of government again.
My Atlantic her colleague Molly Jong-Fast is optimistic that the truth is getting out to the public. I’m not so sure. Will Trump supporters and elected Republicans finally accept the truth? Have they finally heard enough? Or will they be like the last blind apologists of communism who went to their graves refusing to accept the scale of Stalin’s massacres or believing that the Soviet Union was blamed for its crimes?
Unfortunately, I think I know the answer to all of these questions.
Sweden and Finland have been officially invited to join NATO, with the alliance promising more support for Ukraine.
Journalist Maria Ressa said the Philippine government had ordered the closure of Rappler, her news agency. Rappler denounced President Rodrigo Duterte’s disinformation campaigns and his administration’s use of violence.
The Department of Health and Human Services is expanding availability of the monkeypox vaccine as part of a new vaccination plan.
The Weekly Planet: Corporate climate action has become a business advantage, says Robinson Meyer.
Lily. In the novel by Mieko Kawakami All night loverseach phrase is one you can feel.
Look. Did you skip the Netflix show Love is blind when he came out? It’s worth returning to such a comfortably familiar reality, but also a radical treatise on the obstacles to love in a world of screen-and-swipe dating.
Some readers who follow me on Twitter (where I follow @RadioFreeTom) have noticed that on Saturdays I post a lot of weird tweets about mostly forgotten 1970s pop music hits. It’s because me and a lot of other people listen to reruns of random years of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 on SiriusXM’s “70s on 7” channel. You should join us (at #AT40) if you want to listen while we count how many times Kasem mentions that an artist is “from England!” or tells us a winding story that only leads to a truly awful single. The music can be torture, but it’s still a nice break from the sad political news.
– To M
Katherine Hu contributed to this newsletter.