Sunday, March 26

What we’ve learned from the House Jan. 6 committee hearings

Breaking down Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony


On June 27, the House Jan. 6 committee announced an unexpected hearing would be held the next day to hear from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows.

In bombshell testimony, she said Trump had been told that the crowd at his rally at the Ellipse had guns and other weapons and that Trump said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away,'” referring to the magnetometers, or metal detectors, used for security screening.

Hutchinson also testified that the former president wanted to join his supporters at the Capitol. Hutchinson said that when she returned to the White House, then-Secret Service Tony Ornato told her that Trump had a “very strong, very angry response” when he was told he could not go to the Capitol after his speech. 

She said she was told by Ornato, in a room with the head of Trump’s security detail Robert Engel, that the president became “irate” when he was told in his vehicle that he could not go to the Capitol. He said something to the effect of “I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Hutchinson said.  

When told he had to return to the West Wing, Trump reached up to the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel, prompting Engel to grab his arm, Hutchinson said she was told by Ornato. The president then used his free hand to lunge towards Engel, she said, noting that Ornato “motioned towards his clavicles” when describing the incident. 

Aide describes Trump lunging for steering wheel, demanding to go to Capitol on Jan. 6


Hutchinson said Engel did not correct or disagree with any part of what Ornato said.

But soon after the hearing, the Secret Service released a statement that said it intended to respond to Hutchinson’s testimony. “The United States Secret Service has been cooperating with the Select Committee since its inception in spring 2021, and will continue to do so, including by responding on the record to the Committee regarding the new allegations surfaced in today’s testimony,” U.S. Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement to CBS News.

Engel and the driver were, according to CBS News reporting, prepared to testify that neither man was physically attacked or assaulted by Trump and that the former president never lunged for the steering wheel of the vehicle. But they didn’t dispute that Trump was irate or that he demanded to be taken to the Capitol, in the language that Hutchinson related to the committee.

In previous video testimony, Hutchinson told the committee that she heard “Proud Boys” and “Oath Keepers” being discussed in the planning of the rally on Jan. 6 – especially when Giuliani was around. 

She also recalled that Giuliani told her on Jan. 2: “Cass, are you excited for the 6th? It’s going to be a great day.” Hutchinson said she asked Giuliani to explain the significance of Jan. 6, and he responded, “We’re going to the Capitol. It’s going to be great. The president is going to be there, he’s going to look powerful.”

After Giuliani left the White House campus, Hutchinson said she did ask Meadows about Jan. 6 and said “It sounds like we’re going to go to the Capitol.”

House January 6 Committee Holds Public Hearing
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, arrives for a hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. 

Andrew Harnik/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“There’s a lot going on Cass, but I don’t know, things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6,” Meadows told Hutchinson, she recalled.

Hutchinson said that after the riot, Meadows initially wanted to “deflect and blame” liberal groups for what happened on Jan. 6, although he later went a different route.

Hutchinson described how she felt watching the events of Jan. 6 unfold: “As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic. It was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie. And it was something that was really hard in that moment to digest knowing what I’d been hearing down the hall in the conversations that were happening.” 

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