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Cassidy Hutchinson: Why I Testified
Plus: So. Much. Losing.
This is what is known as a vibe shift.
The polls suggested that Democrats were entering another Dark Night of the Soul, but once again they overperformed when the actual votes were counted.
Despite the grim prognostications, the off-year elections turned into a blue-ish sort of wave: A centrist Democrat was re-elected in deep-red Kentucky; Democrats held the Senate and flipped the House in Virginia; abortion rights won big in Ohio; and the Democrats had a clean sweep in New Jersey despite an aggressive GOP push.
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The Drudge Report captures the mood this morning:
Here commenceth the hot takes:
Republicans have not yet cracked the abortion code: Last’s night’s votes followed a consistent pattern since the Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs decision. Last year, abortion rights won all six state ballot measures — in blue states like California and Vermont, in swing states like Michigan, and in deep red states like Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana.
Add Ohio to the list. And, like the others, the vote was not even close.
In Virginia, Governor Glenn Youngkin hoped that a fifteen-week abortion ban compromise might defang the issue. It didn’t.
In Kentucky, abortion played a central role in the GOP’s failure to unseat Democrat Andy Beshear. And in Pennsylvania, a liberal state supreme court candidate cruised to an easy victory.
“Republicans had hoped by now that voters would be interested in litigating what kind of limits should be placed on abortion post-Roe,” noted Alex Roarty. “Instead, seems voters are still just broadly angry at the Dobbs decision and voting in such a way to register that fury.”
Legal pot is still a winner, even in red states: “Ohio votes to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use, becoming 24th state to do so.”
Moms for Liberty had a lousy night. Check out what happened in Iowa:
The Youngkin boom is dead. A presidential bid was never much more than donor class wishcasting, but his loss of his own legislature sent those ambitions to the rapidly filling unicorn graveyard.
Competent, popular, centrist Democrats can still win deep blue states. Democrats fell short in the race for governor in Mississippi, but last night’s tipping point may have been the re-election of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear in a state that Trump won by 26 points. Matt Yglesias explains why “The Andy Beshear Phenomenon” is important:
Swing voters are real, every state has a median voter, politics is mostly about persuasion not base-mobilization, and the old-fashioned Democratic Party pitch about Medicaid, public education, and abortion rights has legs in places where the national party is dead thanks to climate politics and racial issues.
MAGA is still a loser. Trump went all-in for Beshear’s GOP opponent., Daniel Cameron.
Despite a huge Republican advantage, Cameron lost decisively. Here’s Chris Christie’s take:
Daniel Cameron was a rising star in the Republican Party until he decided to throw his lot in with Donald Trump. I mean, let’s face it, Donald Trump is political and electoral poison downballot. Downballot, his endorsement has led to Republican defeats in the House — in the Senate, rather, and the House in ’18. In ’20, we lost the United States Senate and the White House. In ’22, we underperformed miserably. And tonight, you’re seeing us lose again. Daniel Cameron made a huge mistake by embracing Donald Trump and selling his soul to him, and that’s what he did, and the voters in Kentucky — very red state, as you noted — gave their verdict on politicians who sell their soul to Donald Trump.
A presidential campaign is very different from an off-year election, but we can draw certain conclusions. First, it’s even clearer now that abortion remains a powerful electoral driver. Second, while the polls for 2024 cannot help but worry us—as they show growing support for Donald Trump despite his telling us he will destroy American constitutionalism, and continuing concerns about Joe Biden despite his administration’s successes—Tuesday’s results remind us that we shouldn’t despair.
Expect a big push from Biden’s allies in the coming days to reset and reframe. As one Biden adviser told Playbook last night: “I have a hard time squaring all the negativity around the president and his agenda and then the continued performance tonight in Kentucky and all the other special elections in ’23. … The best predictor of voting behavior is voting behavior.”
Cassidy Hutchinson: Why I Testified
On yesterday’s podcast, I spoke with former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson about her new book, Enough. It’s very much worth your time.
You can listen to the whole thing here. Or watch it on YouTube.
Here’s a brief transcript of some of our conversation:
Charlie Sykes: So, the basic question is: With all of the president’s men, all of these grown-ass presidential aides, why was it you? Why was it a 26-year-old aide who made the decision to come out and tell that story? To give that firsthand account of being in the room, the lead-up to January 6th, [and] what happened on January 6th. Why do you think it was you? Why didn’t the guys step up and do what you did, Cassidy?
Cassidy Hutchinson: You know, this question, I’ve thought a lot about this, and it never gets easier to answer because I don’t like to speculate about other people’s mindsets or intentions. And, you know, I would also like to give credit to the Department of Justice who has an ongoing investigation, and I do think a lot of investigation should go on behind closed doors. But I think back to where we were in the summer of 2022. . . . In my opinion, there has not been a massive mentality shift, but there has been a slight mentality shift away from this cultlike Trumpism, at least I guess in my experience, but maybe it’s because I’m on the other side of it now.
And I know that I reached a moral crossroads in April of 2022 — where I felt that not only did I have the moral obligation to come forward with more information and to be more forthcoming with the committee — but I had betrayed the oath that I swore to protect and defend our country and our Constitution. And I saw a slight window of time where I could potentially correct course, and I wasn’t doing it in any way to try to have a revisionist history. I think in the book it’s abundantly clear . . . I take full accountability for all of my missteps and the actions that I wish I had changed.
But I do hope that by me coming forward, it either helped inspire or give others the courage to come forward — or it helped at least open up a road map because I came forward because I thought that it was important to hold these people also under the court of public opinion.
Sykes: One of the themes of this podcast is soul-crushing disillusionment, regrets, and possible redemption. . . . You saw these folks, you saw Rudy Giuliani, you saw Mark Meadows. Is there any moment where you're looking around going, “Who are these guys? Why am I here?” Was it December? Was it November? Was it during the campaign? When did the scales begin to fall, Cassidy?
Hutchinson: I would say the scales really began to fall after the end of the administration.
Sykes: Only then?
Hutchinson: I go back because there were a lot of moments both during the campaign, more so in late December through January of 2021 where I had that awakening moment of, you know, this is wrong. These things shouldn’t be happening, this is not normal.
But when you’re in that environment — and I’m not excusing — but when you’re in that environment, the communications machine is so powerful, and you’re surrounded by people —if you deter from what they think, not that civil conversation isn’t encouraged—but if you point things out like that, you're seen as a traitor, you’re seen as disloyal.
It’s this very odd concept to sort of describe, but it’s this warped mindset of convincing myself, you know, either don’t think about it like this, don’t think about the craziness, don’t think about the dangers of all this — or it’s not your role to think about it like this. You’re here to do a job.
So again, especially the days leading up to January 6th, on January 6th, after January 6th, I’m careful to say that the scales had fallen because I think I really started to process a lot of this after the end of the administration. But I was very firm in the belief that before January 6th, that we were at fault for what was potentially going to happen. And then after January 6th, that we were [responsible].
1. It’s Over Mitch, Go Rogue
Is McConnell prepared to endorse Trump a third time next spring? If Trump wins next year McConnell is toast. And if Trump loses it is hard to imagine House Republicans won’t object to certifying a Biden 2024 victory—and the MAGA caucus in the Senate will follow suit.
McConnell owes himself a better legacy than being run out of town by J.D. Vance, Ron Johnson, and Donald Trump. He can help the country, and democracy, and himself, by abandoning the needs of his party to do what is right.
Just as both Sen. Mitt Romney and former Vice President Mike Pence have, McConnell can choose to liberate himself from the corruption MAGA has in store for Republicans next year. There is no reason not to—like Pence and Romney, McConnell will find no future work in GOP circles once he leaves the Senate.
Twilight can elicit courage. Cocaine Mitch should go out in a blaze of UniParty glory.
2. Here’s Why a ‘No Labels’ Campaign Could Be Even Worse Than You Thought
It’s not just that a third-party ticket can’t win or that it would be likely to help Donald Trump—although both of those things are true. It’s that even if a third-party ticket succeeds, meaning it wins any states, it could cause an even worse disaster.
Why? Because under the Constitution, whoever gets the most votes in the Electoral College is not automatically elected president. If no one wins a majority of electoral votes—at least 270—then the election results are functionally voided and the House of Representatives picks the next president in a “contingent election.” Given how closely divided the country is, it’s possible that we could be in precisely this position if a third party wins even a single state.
Does this scenario have only a small probability of happening? Yes. But in the last few years we’ve seen a fair number of “unprecedented” things come to pass, so it’s important to game this out.
3. The Left’s Growing Antisemitism Problem
IF A UNITED, ROBUST MOVEMENT of progressive politics was ever necessary in the United States, it is at this exact moment. An increasingly authoritarian right, under the spell of bizarre conspiracy theories and revolving around the personality cult of Donald Trump, threatens the foundation of American democracy. Yet antisemitism, the most lethal prejudice and most dangerous conspiracy theory in the history of the world, is now thriving on the left. It is a moral outrage in itself, but it could also undermine progressive politics, robbing it of intellectual and ethical credibility in its fight against the nationalist-populist right.