The top aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows who testified before the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot on Tuesday was a young, fast-rising star in the Trump administration.
Cassidy Hutchinson, 26, was a staff assistant at the Office of Legislative Affairs before she was quickly promoted to special assistant to then-President Donald Trump and adviser to Meadows, before becoming his executive assistant until the end of the Trump administration.
Meadows made Hutchinson his legislative aide, and she would accompany Meadows to Capitol Hill for his most serious meetings. Hutchinson was with Meadows “all the time,” one former White House official said, and another source said she had “very close access to Meadows.”
One former White House aide said Hutchinson had a falling out with Meadows in 2021. She was supposed to go to Mar-a-Lago as the permanent staff but that never ended up happening.
Hutchinson’s experience of working closely with Meadows will allow the committee to gain further insight into Meadows’ efforts to overturn the election and knowledge of what took place the day the Capitol was breached. A person close to Hutchinson has told CNN she previously testified to the committee for at least 20 hours detailing her time in key meetings at the White House as Trump and his allies tried to overturn the election results.
She was an eyewitness to several key episodes leading up to January 6, in addition to witnessing some of Trump’s real-time reactions that day.
During interviews conducted by the committee, Hutchinson testified that multiple Republican members of Congress, including Reps. Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Scott Perry and Louie Gohmert, asked for preemptive pardons after January 6.
She also testified that Meadows was directly warned prior to the insurrection of the possible violence. Meadows refuses to speak to the House committee.
Prior to her confirmation of speaking in front of the committee, CNN previously reported that Hutchinson replaced her lawyer that had close ties to Trump in preparation for her testimony. CNN also reported that Hutchinson has become increasingly aware of the safety risk speaking in front of the committee poses and has been on alert.
Trump claims he hardly knows Hutchinson
Trump, as he often does with aides and allies with whom he was once close but later turned against him, claimed on Tuesday that he “hardly know[s]” Hutchinson and personally rejected a request she made to join his post-presidency staff at Mar-a-Lago.
“When she requested to go with certain others of my team to Florida after my having served a full term in office, I personally turned her request down,” Trump said on Truth Social during Hutchinson’s live testimony.
Trump attempted to cast Hutchinson’s testimony on Tuesday as revenge, claiming she was “very upset and angry that I didn’t want her” at his Palm Beach residence.
The former President’s attempt to distance himself from Hutchinson, whom he described as “bad news” on Tuesday despite also claiming he barely knew her, came after the committee showed renderings of the West Wing to demonstrate just how close she was to the Oval Office as an assistant to Meadows. Multiple former White House aides also publicly vouched for Hutchinson’s proximity to Trump and his chief of staff before and during her appearance on Tuesday.
“Anyone downplaying Cassidy Hutchinson’s role or her access in the West Wing either doesn’t understand how the Trump [White House] worked or is attempting to discredit her because they’re scared of how damning this testimony is,” former White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews tweeted.
In response to this, one former White House aide said, “Everyone high up at the WH knew her. And even if Trump didn’t know her name he most certainly recognized her. She traveled on AF1 with Mark for every trip.” Additionally, this former aide said that while Tuesday’s testimony was crazy, it’s also 100% believable given what this person knew after working in the White House. The most surprising episode to some aides so far has been “The Beast” incident, in which Trump allegedly tried to lunge for the steering wheel of the presidential limousine so he could be driven to the Capitol on January 6.
CNN’s Gabby Orr and Pamela Brown contributed to this report.