With privileged access to then President Donald Trump, Cassidy Hutchinsonassistant to the president’s chief of staff Mark Meadowsgave the parliamentary committee investigating the Capitol seizure the first detailed report of what was happening in the White House at the time.
She testified that Trump and some of his top lieutenants were aware that violence could ensue before the attack on Capitol Hill took place., contradicting claims that the attack was spontaneous and had nothing to do with the administration. Among his statements, the following stand out:
1) Trump knew there could be violence on January 6 and still didn’t stop it
Hutchinson said that he remembered his boss Meadows saying four days before the insurrection: “Things could get very, very bad on January 6.”
He added that he had sought out his boss after a White House meeting involving Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
As they were leaving, Giuliani asked her if she was “excited” about January 6. When she asked why, Giuliani “was like, ‘We’re going to go to the Capitol,'” she recalled.
And he added: “‘It’s going to be great. The president will be there. He will look powerful. (…) he Talks to the boss about it. He knows'”.
Hutchinson claimed that he later told Meadows what Giuliani had said.
“He didn’t look up from his phone and say something like ‘There’s a lot going on, Cass, but I don’t know. Things could get much, much worse on January 6’Hutchinson recounted.
“When I heard Rudy’s opinion on January 6 and then Mark’s response, That was the first moment I remember feeling scared and nervous about what might happen.”he added.
Hutchinson told the committee that on those days he heard the names of the far-right groups “Oath Keepers” and “Proud Boys” mentioned at the White House.
Meadows and Trump were also aware that the president’s supporters were armed when they met at The Ellipse.the area near the White House where Trump’s rally took place before the coup, Hutchinson said.
When Meadows was informed that violence had broken out, “had almost no reaction”according to Hutchinson.
Potentially problematic for Trump could be his insistence on removing metal detecting magnetometers. which he thought slowed down supporters who had gathered for a rally near the White House.
Annoyed that some in the crowd might not see him, Trump, according to Hutchinson, said words to the effect of: “I don’t care if they have guns. They are not here to hurt me. Get rid of the damn detectors. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.”
When events on Capitol Hill turned violent, with the crowd clamoring for “Hang Mike Pence”Hutchinson testified that Trump refused to intervene.
Trump ‘doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong’Hutchinson recalled hearing his superior say.
2) Trump advisers knew the president could be exposed to criminal charges
According to the testimony, the president’s will did not always prevail and Hutchinson detailed advisers’ best efforts to rein in Trump’s worst impulses. On the morning of January 6, for example, White House counsel Pat Cipollone warned Hutchinson that if Trump went to Capitol Hill to intervene in the certification of the election, “we will be charged with every conceivable crime if we make the movement happen.”
“A congressional hearing is not a court of law, but if this isn’t powerful evidence that he was not only aware of the possibility of violence on the 6th, but wanted to actively encourage it, I’m not sure what is.”said to AP Stephen Vladeck, a professor of law at the University of Texas. “When you have witnesses who are in these conversations, who are in these rooms, who are actively participating in the high-level discussions on January 6, it seems to me that one of two things has to be true: either they are lying, or the president Trump and many people close to him are in grave dangerVladec said.
The investigation is expanding far beyond the rioters themselves, and law enforcement officials last week served a nationwide wave of subpoenas on state election officials, though it’s unclear whether the Justice Department believes that has a case against the former president.
3) Trump was furious when they told him he couldn’t go to Capitol Hill
Hutchinson’s minute-by-minute account of what was happening inside and outside the White House offered a stark description of a president so unwilling to concede his electoral loss to Joe Biden that he acted out of anger.
Hutchinson noted that when President Donald Trump learned that his attorney general had publicly rejected his claims of voter fraud, he threw his lunch against the wall with such force that the china plate shattered and the tomato sauce spilled. Hutchinson says he grabbed a napkin to clean it up.
And later that day, angry at being herded back to the White House instead of the Capitol, Trump uttered words to the effect of: “I am the fucking president. Take me to the Capitol now.” and grabbed the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle.
4) Trump’s closest associates asked for presidential pardons
Hutchinson testified that both Giuliani and Meadows petitioned Trump for pardons after the insurrection. This follows the committee’s revelations last week that several Republican members of Congress have also requested pardons. As the columnist wrote Washington Post Jennifer Rubin, “Any prosecutor would use this as evidence of guilt.”
The former aide said a White House security agent told her about the altercation in the vehicle immediately after it happened, and that Bobby Engel, head of the security team, was in the room and did not deny the account. They told him that Engel took Trump by the arm to prevent him from taking control of the armored vehicleand that the president used his other arm to throw a punch at Engel.
This version was disputed immediately. Engelthe agent who was driving the presidential van, and Trump’s security agent, Tony OrnamentThey are willing to testify under oath that no officers were assaulted and that Trump never attempted to take the wheel, a person familiar with the matter said.
5) Trump aides who refuse to testify
Panel members praised Hutchinson’s courage in testifying and said other witnesses had been intimidated and uncooperative.
“I want all Americans to know that what Mrs. Hutchinson has done today is not easy”said Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican who led the questioning.
Trump denied much of what Hutchinson said on his social media platform, Truth Social. He called it a “total fake” and “bad news.”
But some of Hutchinson’s former colleagues also defended his version.. Mick Mulvaney, who preceded Meadows as Trump’s chief of staff, tweeted that he knows Hutchinson and “I don’t think he’s lying.” Sarah Matthews, a former Trump press aide who also cooperated with the committee, called the testimony “damning.”
Hutchinson’s appearance before the committee highlighted the list of Trump advisers who have refused to give face-to-face testimony, including Meadows, Ornato, Cipollone and others. In fact, Liz Cheney read statements from anonymous witnesses who said they had been warned to be “loyal” to Trump, something that might suggest the possibility of witness tampering.
Former assistant to the chief of staff of Donald Trump testified about the attack on Capitol Hill and claimed that they knew of the risk of violence