WASHINGTON – Before Sarah Matthews, the former White House deputy press secretary, even opened her mouth to testify on Thursday before the selection committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the Republican convention in the House of Representatives. The institute attacked her on Twitter as a “liar” and a “pawn” of the Democratic Party.
The group did not mention the man sitting next to her, Matthew Pottinger, a former deputy national security adviser who was also there to deliver a scathing indictment of President Donald J. Trump’s conduct. on the day of the riot. Mr. Trump himself did not mention Mr Pottinger when he criticized hours later with a statement calling Ms Matthews a celebrity seeker who was “clearly lying”.
The contrast highlights how, in a series of hearings that focused on issues of democracy, the rule of law and the peaceful transfer of power, another topic of little discussion emerged: the Gender dynamics are going strong.
In the process of revealing Mr. Trump’s elaborate effort to overturn the 2020 election, the House selection committee relied on the accounts of several women who came forward to tell their stories publicly. Their statement and the attacks that followed show that women often pay a higher price than men when it comes to speaking out.
Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and vice chairwoman of the panel – a woman who herself suffered heavily for her insistence on condemning Mr. Trump’s conduct – made clear the role of gender during the proceedings. She has positioned herself as a champion of women who agree to testify in public, comparing them favorably to the many men who have refused to do so.
At the committee of golden hour hearing on ThursdayMs. Cheney wore a white coat, the color of the women’s suffrage movement. She called out Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to serve as British prime minister, and American women’s fight to secure the right to vote as she described the women who had appeared publicly during the panel’s inquiry. Judges are “an inspiration for American women and American girls. “
As a result, when the committee opened up to the story of the attack on January 6 – showing a predominantly male mob placing waste on the Capitol in Mr. Trump’s name, with the president expecting support from West Wing – many of the most prominent witnesses were women, with Ms. Cheney as their protector.
It is a remarkable strategy for Ms. Cheney, a hardline and hawkish conservative who throughout her career has worked to avoid being seen through the lens of gender.
Key revelations from the January 6 hearing
It comes as the Republican Party has worked to diversify and widen its appeal to female voters, a group that polls show is a weakness of Mr. Trump in 2020 and has only drifted away from him ever since. A recent New York Times/Siena College poll found that six out of 10 women believe that Mr. Trump’s actions after the 2020 election threaten democracy, while men are almost equally divided, with 48% holding that view and 45% saying he is just exercising his rights.
Ms. Cheney was the highest-ranking Republican woman on Capitol Hill last year when she parted ways with her party after the riots and called Mr Trump and his election lies, voting to impeach him. for inciting rebellion. Within a few months, she was was ousted as Republican 3 in the House, and she is now in danger of losing her seat in Wyoming when she facing a challenging primaries next month against an opponent backed by Trump.
It’s hard not to hear some similarities when Cheney described Thursday how Ms. Hutchinson, a 26-year-old former White House aide who has become a witness of public criticism, deliberately exposed herself. in the face of harsh criticism from former colleagues. Ms. Cheney said that Ms. Hutchinson “knows well that she will be attacked by President Trump and men in their 50s, 60s and 70s who hide behind executive privilege”.
“But like our witnesses today, she had the courage and she did it anyway,” Ms. Cheney added.
After Ms Hutchinson’s testimony, Mr Trump dismissed her in an interview with Newsmax because “this girl” was making up stories. “She has a serious problem, let me explain it that way,” he said. “Neurological problem.”
Amanda Carpenter, a former adviser to Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Jim DeMint of South Carolina, both Republicans, said it’s remarkable to see a conservative woman draw attention to the power gender. motion.
“I know how difficult it is for these women to be in this situation,” Ms. Carpenter said. “I imagine it means a lot to the women being targeted. It means a lot to me just watching it.”
The House Republican Convention Twitter attack on Ms. Matthews, who worked as a House Republican aide, was quickly deleted. But Mr. Trump’s targeting of her and Ms. Hutchinson aligns with the way the former president often openly treats women who challenge him, criticizing them personally for the purpose of questioning his credibility, their sanity and self-worth.
Trump’s allies like to portray him as an equal chance counterattacker who will attack anyone who gets past him. But over the years, he has pick out female villains with particular wickedness, including television personalities Mika Brzezinski and Megyn Kelly, Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, and Mary T. Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors. His allies, many of whom were seeking his approval, imitated his behavior.
In Ms Hutchinson’s case, a person close to her said, the stories were brought to the Trump-friendly media to smear her personally.
Garrett Ziegler, a junior aide to Trump’s White House, appeared thoughtless during a live stream last week after sitting for an interview with the committee on Jan. refused to answer questions. In allusion, he used sexist slurs against his former female colleagues who cooperated with the investigation.
“Pat Cipollone, Bill Barr, Marc Short, they’re saying the same thing, but you’re attacking young women,” said former Representative Barbara Comstock of Virginia, a Republican Mr. loser RINO, said. “For nominal Republicans only.
Ms. Comstock was referring to the former White House adviser, former attorney general and former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence – all of whom gave closed testimony before the committee that painted Mr. Trump in a not-so-good light. .
Ms Comstock, who is close to Ms Cheney, said: “This is a model. “The president does this, and this is intentional.”
Some male witnesses have also suffered professional consequences and public criticism for their objectionable behavior. Rusty Bowers, speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives and a Republican, was censored by his state’s Republican Party after his emotional testimony before the committee. Mr. Bowers, who is running for re-election, told NBC News that it takes “a miracle” for him to exist politically.
And Mr. Barr, who as attorney general directly told Mr. Trump that his election fraud claims were worth nothing, echoed sentiments about the practicality of the partnership.
“I get a lot of vitriol from the right,” Mr. Barr said in a brief interview.
However, while male witnesses have received some criticism from the right – in Mr. Cipollone’s case, Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted that he should “grow bones” live and go on” – the attacks have not been of the same volume or intensity, or the same level of personal discomfort, as those against Ms. Hutchinson in particular.
Trump’s allies insist they have genuine concerns about what Ms. Hutchinson told the committee. They challenged specific issues of fact in her testimony, drawing on the discrepancy between her account and that of Eric Herschmann, a former White House attorney. Each claimed the authorship of a handwritten note displayed at one of the hearings providing guidance on what the president may have said to the rioters on January 6.
There was also an attempt to undermine the veracity of some of the most explosive parts of Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony. Secret Service officials, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, objected a scene that Miss Hutchinson said she was told about in which Mr. Trump is said to have grabbed a Secret Service agent and rammed the steering wheel of the SUV he was driving when he asked to be driven to the Capitol on January 6.
But the swiftness of the Twitter attack on Ms Matthews was notable because it came from her own colleagues. The Twitter account for the House Republican Conference that she chose to join is run by two former Trump campaign aides.
Under the stewardship of Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, who replaced Cheney as a Republican in the 3rd House of Representatives, the Twitter account took on an aggressive tone throughout the hearings – aimed at pleases those whose proverb is “one’s audience”.