Expanding on an excerpt from her new memoir, the White House aide turned Trump whistleblower tells PEOPLE why she won't feed into the "vitriol" that has taken hold of American politics in recent years
At 25, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson put her reputation on the line as she calmly spoke in a televised congressional hearing about President Donald Trump's alleged behavior in the final days of his administration, including on Jan. 6, 2021 — the day that a violent mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Once loyal to the president, Hutchinson tells PEOPLE she underwent a "moral tug of war" in the year and a half between the insurrection and her public testimony, believing that the Trump administration — herself included — was responsible for what she calls "the most destructive force that our democracy has faced in modern times, if not in American history."
In an exclusive excerpt from Hutchinson's new memoir, Enough, she describes the immediate backlash that followed her testimony, when Trump loyalists — many of whom she considered friends — turned their backs on her, and the former president unleashed his ire.
"The pushback from Trump defenders is picking up speed, the attacks led by Trump himself, whose insults are getting cruder," she remembers in the excerpt. "I tried to mentally prepare for breaking with Trump World. I know how they curate vile attacks on their detractors. I was once part of that process."
As the insults drag on, she writes, "I learn how it feels to be on the other side. But I know enough not to react. That's what he wants me to do. He wants me to be defensive. He wants to know when he’s hurt someone or gotten a rise out of them; he wants to project his hurt onto the source of it."
She continues in the memoir: "Trump doesn’t care if you dispute him or call him a liar. Only silence bothers him. Being ignored drives him mad."
Trump posted on his social media site Truth Social several times after Hutchinson's testimony, seemingly trying to distance himself from her and poke holes in her credibility.
"I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and 'leaker')," Trump wrote in one post, adding, "She is bad news!"
In another post, he wrote, "Her body language is that of a total bull.... artist. Fantasy Land!"
In conversation with PEOPLE ahead of her memoir's release, Hutchinson — now very familiar with being on the receiving end of hate — says that when others hurl insults, it's ultimately on them to self-reflect.
"As much as the attacks can hurt at points, they say more about somebody's character," she explains of her thinking. "And if somebody wants to attack the way that they come off in the book, I'm not going to hold myself responsible for what they may say about the way that they're framed, because I'm holding them accountable to their own actions."
Hutchinson — who still considers herself a Republican after everything that transpired — boldly declares that she still has "faith in Washington," but notes that she's disappointed with the direction that Trump's aggression has taken her party.
"There's been a dramatic shift in Republican politics, where the vitriol and rhetoric that he has amplified has become normalized. And violence isn't just talked about, but it's encouraged," she says.
To combat the ugliness, she hopes to use her platform to "build bridges" and "restore a sense of decency and accountability in our political system."
"This is a critical moment for us to be able to educate people, and that's sort of how I see my role right now: having constructive and difficult conversations with Republicans and with Democrats about how we all need to come together," she says. "The proliferation of lies and disinformation has to stop at some point. We have to say, Enough."
For more on Cassidy Hutchinson's life after testifying, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week's issue, on newsstands Friday.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.