Former President Donald Trump allegedly knew about the threat of violence before Jan. 6, 2021, and didn’t try to stop it, and he allegedly grabbed at a Secret Service officer who wouldn’t take him to the Capitol that day, according to testimony Tuesday to the House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The explosive hearing focused on testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, former principal aide to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows. Hutchinson’s job put her in close contact with senior members of Trump’s administration and security detail, and her office was just steps from the Oval Office.
Warnings of violence
Hutchinson said that on Jan. 2, 2021, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani asked her if she was excited for Jan. 6, and said it was going to be a great day, and that Trump would look powerful and be with members of Congress and senators. When she asked Meadows what Giuliani meant, Meadows told her “things might be real, real bad on Jan. 6.” She said, “I remember feeling scared and nervous for what could happen.”
On the day of the rally, law enforcement reported seeing armed protesters in trees, including some with AR-15s, and attendees who entered the security perimeter at the rally had weapons, pepper spray, knives, brass knuckles and tasers that were confiscated.
Trump’s frustration with security precautions
Hutchinson said she was in the vicinity of Trump at the rally and overheard him say he didn’t care if his supporters had weapons and to let them in. “They’re not here to hurt me,” Hutchinson recalled Trump saying. “Let them in. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol after the rally’s over. They can march from the Ellipse.”
Multiple Trump staffers said in videotaped interviews that Trump wanted to go to the Capitol after the rally, but then-White House counsel Pat Cipollone told Hutchinson “we’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement (to the Capitol) happen.”
Hutchinson said she later heard Trump was upset when Secret Service Special Agent Bobby Engel told him he had to return to the White House.
“The president said something to the effect of I’m the president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Hutchinson said, using a euphemism for an expletive.
When Engel said he had to return to the White House, Trump “reached up to the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel,” Hutchinson said. “Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel.”
Mick Mulvaney, who was a former acting White House chief of staff under Trump, tweeted Tuesday that those who Hutchinson mentioned in her testimony should also testify.
“If Cassidy is making this up, they will need to say that,” he tweeted. “If she isn’t, they will have to corroborate. I know her. I don’t think she is lying.”
‘As an American, I was disgusted’
Hutchinson said she was disgusted when Trump tweeted that Mike Pence was not doing his job during the attack for not overturning the election.
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution,” Trump had tweeted in part.
Hutchinson said she took it personally.
“As a staffer that worked to always represent the administration to the best of my ability and to showcase the good things that he had done for the country, I remember feeling frustrated, disappointed. Really, it felt personal,” she said.
“As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic. It was un-American,” she said. “We were watching the Capitol Building get defaced over a lie.”
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said Trump could have prevented the violence.
“Much of this information about the potential for violence was known or learned before the onset of the violence, early enough for President Trump to take steps to prevent it,” Cheney said. “He could have, for example, urged the crowd at the Ellipse not to march to the Capitol. He could have condemned the violence mediately once it began, or he could have taken multiple other steps.”
The committee showed text messages sent from Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham urging Meadows to have Trump condemn the attack.
“He is destroying his legacy and playing into every stereotype,” Ingraham texted Meadows on the afternoon of Jan. 6. “We lose all credibility against the BLM/Antifa crowd if things go south.”