Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson's new book detailing the last days of the Donald Trump administration, “Enough,” is now on shelves. It appears safe to say that whatever you thought was going on inside Team Trump, the reality was probably worse. Initial reviews of the book mostly appear to be expressing dull shock at the many, many anecdotes of recklessness, incompetence, and law-skirting.
CNN's initial review seems the most complete so far, and even the summary is a ride. "If I can get through this job and manage to keep [Trump] out of jail, I'll have done a good job," White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows allegedly told Hutchinson in June of 2020 as Trump's reelection fight was in full swing. That really does seem to describe the larger White House Cult of Trump: Keep your head down, keep the boss happy, and try to distract the buffoon when he demands you do something criminal.
One of the most noteworthy episodes of something criminal might be Hutchinson's allegations that Meadows was burning so many papers in his office fireplace that his wife complained she couldn't keep up with the dry cleaning. "[A]ll his suits smell like a bonfire," she complained. But Hutchinson also relates Meadows handing over classified documents to far-right media personalities, as well as both White House counsel Pat Cipollone's attempts to get them back and his acidic request to her to inform Meadows that "we cannot pardon Kimberly Guilfoyle's gynecologist.” And no, he wasn't joking.
It seems the mishandling of classified documents was widespread on the Trump team. On a Monday appearance on the “Rachel Maddow Show,” Hutchinson carefully allowed that she and "colleagues" were "under the impression that how classified documents were being handled was not within proper protocol." We may never know just how many classified documents left the White House after Trump, Meadows, or others simply handed them off.
And to this day, we've never gotten a satisfactory answer on what might have been burned in those days when Meadows’ fireplace was apparently billowing smoke like an evacuating Russian embassy. There hasn't been much speculation on it, either. When it comes to things Meadows and others would absolutely want the public to never see, the possibilities seem nearly infinite.
It's Hutchinson's many apparent examples of cavalier lawbreaking and worse that would appear to be the most noteworthy bits of the book. One example is her already-known account of Trump's furious reaction when his security team informed him that his Jan. 6 crowd wasn't going through the metal detectors to get into the area of his planned speech, and Trump demanded that they get rid of the detectors and let the crowd stay armed. The press has seized more quickly on some of the more tawdry goings-on, however. Among the first leaks from the book was Hutchinson's account of being groped by Rudy Giuliani on Jan. 6, just before the mob stormed the Capitol. It’s another gross episode for Giuliani, to be sure, but not nearly as consequential as the coup attempt that the rally had been organized to help facilitate.
Likewise, there's one exceptionally satisfying bit of gross in Hutchinson's description of Rep. Matt Gaetz being an obnoxious manslut. Hutchinson described that incident during her Maddow interview, and Jeebus, this guy may be the creepiest creep in Washington—but at least Hutchinson gets her public revenge.
Remember when former Rep. Madison Cawthorn publicly claimed his Republican colleagues had invited him to orgies and done cocaine in his presence? House Republican leadership had a full-on meltdown, reacting with more fury toward Cawthorn for saying that than they ever directed toward any of the sex-trafficking, theater-groping, murder-advocating cretins in their ranks. You'll never convince me Cawthorn wasn't referring to Gaetz, and that dozens of Gaetz's fellow House members know damn well he was referring to Gaetz.
As for what Hutchinson has learned from all of this, it does not seem to include an acknowledgement that the Republican Party is an irredeemable cesspit of fascism and corruption. That seems inevitable for a person who stayed around until the bitter, history-defining, and seditious end of Trump's term. Again on Maddow, Hutchinson said of her party's continued support for Trump: "I don’t think we are a part of the same Republican Party. I still consider myself a Republican. I consider myself a Republican in the sense of Sen. Mitt Romney and the Reagan Republican Party."
But the Republican Party of Romney, Cheney, and Reagan no longer exists, except in the still-starry minds of pundits and book authors. That other Republican Party has been purged. It is dead. It has no staff, no power, and no plausible candidates. The purge was very public and very thorough; Romney was perhaps the last notable survivor. Even among Trump's Republican detractors, challengers like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, the question is not whether to reject Trumpism but how best to capture Trumpism, with its hunger for cruelty and contempt for moderation, and retain it as Republicanism's core even when Trump himself departs the scene.
Hutchinson does, however, at least recognize the urgency of this particular moment—even if she still overestimates the basic morality of all of the Republican power brokers she watched drive us to this point. She told Maddow that the 2024 elections are "make-or-break moment for the Republican Party."
“Now is the time, if these politicians, these men and some women that are currently in Congress, want to make the break and want to take the stand, they have to do it now. We can’t wait any longer for them to do it. I don’t know why they’re so willing to support him. I think it’s extremely disappointing and it is not a hard issue to take. We’re talking about a man who at the very essence of his being almost destroyed democracy in one day — and he wants to do it again. He wants to be president to do it again.”
He does indeed. And nearly every Republican leader in the nation either wants to help him do it, or is willing to remain silent and watch him try. Again.
Sign the petition: Trump attempted a coup on Jan. 6. He is a clear and present danger to democracy.
New book alleges Trump's ex-chief of staff's suits smelled 'like a bonfire' from burning papers
Former White House staffer says she was groped by Rudy Giuliani on Jan. 6
The GOP 'once saw their roles as legislators first and Republicans second.' Trump has destroyed that