Former White House Aide Testifies Trump Sought to Join Protestors Marching to Capitol on Jan. 6
In a surprise Tuesday hearing, former West Wing aide said Trump grew irate when the Secret Service refused to drive him to the Capitol
- Published In: Politics
- Last Updated: Jun 29, 2022
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former West Wing aide, testifies Tuesday at a surprise hearing of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. (Wyoming Truth photo courtesy of Jan. 6 committee’s June 28, 2022 hearing video recording)
By Jacob Gardenswartz
Special to the Wyoming Truth
WASHINGTON — In a surprise hearing before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows testified that former President Donald Trump knew of the possibility for violence when he urged his supporters to “fight like hell” in remarks that morning, and then became irate when his security detail would not let him to go to the Capitol.
Cassidy Hutchinson, the 25-year-old former executive assistant to Meadows who was present in the West Wing for dozens of crucial conversations at about the time of the riots, told lawmakers that Trump was warned that some his supporters were carrying weapons and yet urged the Secret Service to shut down the magnetometers, which scan for guns and knives, because they weren’t a threat to him personally.
“‘You know, I don’t f*****g care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me,’” Hutchinson testified she overheard Trump say shortly before his speech on the morning of Jan. 6. “Take the f*****g mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in.”
After his remarks concluded, when Trump entered the presidential limousine and was informed he would not accompany his supporters to the Capitol, he became “irate,” Hutchinson testified. “‘I’m the f*****g president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” Trump told the Secret Service, according to Hutchinson. Trump went so far as to reach for the steering wheel himself, and when the head of his security detail, Bobby Engle, refused to drive him there, “lunged” at Engle’s neck, Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson’s testimony came in a unannounced Tuesday meeting of the panel, which had said last week it was pausing hearings until July to scrutinize new evidence. The committee announced Monday that Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) would be traveling back to Washington for the hearing. In her testimony, Hutchinson said Trump, after learning that Attorney General Bill Barr had given an interview refuting his voter fraud claims, lashed out in the state dining room, throwing a plate against the wall such that there was “ketchup dripping down the wall.” She also said she was aware of “several” other occasions when Trump’s temper led him to hurl plates.
Hutchinson described conversations with White House colleagues about Trump’s demeanor in the days following the riots, during which pro-Trump protestors had breached the Capitol and chanted “Hang Mike Pence.”
“‘He [Trump] thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong,’” Hutchinson said she heard her boss, Mark Meadows, say to the White House counsel on Jan. 7. She said Trump initially resisted calls from aides and allies to decry the riots, going so far as to float pardons for those who trespassed at the Capitol.
Hutchinson’s testimony was damning for Meadows, who has thus far refused to participate in the committee’s investigation aside from providing copies of emails and texts from about that time.
“‘Things might get real, real bad on January 6,’” she said Meadows told her days earlier, after meeting with Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney who was the chief proponent of his voter fraud claims. She also said Meadows and Giuliani sought pardons for themselves after the violence took place.
As Hutchinson addressed the committee, several former White House aides spoke out online in support of her while some of Trump’s allies sought to undercut her testimony. Trump released several statements on his own social media platform, claiming that he “hardly know[s]” Hutchinson.
In what appeared to be a coordinated effort to preempt these defenses, the committee began Tuesday’s presentation with a series of photos showing Hutchinson with top officials, including Trump, and presented a three-dimensional diagram of her West Wing office, noting its proximity to the Oval Office.
“I want all Americans to know that what Ms. Hutchinson has done today is not easy,” Cheney said in her closing statement. She pointed to the testimony of witnesses who said they faced threats and intimidation from Trump’s defenders not to participate in the investigation.
“We are all in her debt,” Cheney concluded. “Our nation is preserved by those who abide by their oaths to their Constitution.”