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Jan. 6 committee holds sixth hearing

Ex-aide was told Trump became irate when stopped from going to Capitol
03:04

What we covered here

  • Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection and painted a damning portrait of former President Trump’s actions on that day.
  • Hutchinson said Trump and Meadows were aware of the possibility of violence on Jan. 6, including that supporters had weapons when they gathered on the Ellipse. Trump lunged at Secret Service and the steering wheel of the vehicle when he was told he couldn’t go to the Capitol, the ex-aide said she was told. 
  • While the panel can’t bring legal charges against Trump, its central mission has been to uncover the full scope of his attempt to stop the transfer of power and connect his efforts to the violence at the Capitol. The Justice Department would ultimately need to be the one to decide whether to bring criminal charges.

Our live coverage has ended. Read more about today’s hearing in the posts below.

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Takeaways from Tuesday's hearing with ex-White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson departs after testifying on June 28 in Washington, DC.

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol Hill insurrection reconvened Tuesday for a hastily scheduled hearing, featuring blockbuster testimony from Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.

Hutchinson has cooperated extensively with the investigation, having sat for four closed-door depositions. She brought the goods for her in-person appearance Tuesday. She revealed how then-President Donald Trump and his inner circle were warned about the potential for violence on January 6, and how Trump wanted to join the throngs of his supporters at the US Capitol.

The testimony bolstered the narrative that the committee has been driving toward over the last few weeks: That Trump incited and supported the insurrection as part of a desperate power grab to steal a second term, and that many of his top advisers thought his schemes were illegal.

Here are takeaways from Hutchinson’s key testimony:

Trump and his chief of staff were warned about violence — including armed attendees of rally: Hutchinson really moved the ball forward in terms of establishing that Trump was personally aware of the potential for violence, yet forged ahead on Jan. 6 with his attempts to rile up his supporters to interfere with the joint session of Congress to certify President Joe Biden’s victory.

She said Trump was told that morning that weapons were being confiscated from some of his supporters who came for his rally. Later, when Trump and his team were at the Ellipse — the large oval lawn on the south side of the White House — and before his speech, Trump barked out orders to his staffers to “take the mags away” — referring to the metal detectors — because the people in the crowd, “they’re not here to hurt me.”

Trump also said, “I don’t f**king care that they have weapons,” according to Hutchinson. This is particularly shocking, because Trump then encouraged the same crowd to march to the Capitol while lawmakers were affirming Biden’s win. (Hundreds of Trump’s diehard supporters soon stormed the Capitol, many carrying knives, bear spray, metal poles, tasers and a few guns.)

When Hutchinson told her boss, Meadows, about early reports of weapons getting confiscated, Meadows didn’t even look up from his phone, according to Hutchinson. Two days earlier, he told her that “things might get real, real, bad on January 6.”

Trump intended to go the Capitol and pushed to do so until the last minute: The select committee effectively proved as much on Tuesday by featuring a mix of damning witness testimony and White House records that show Trump intended to join his supporters at the Capitol and was pushing to do so just minutes before the violence began to escalate.

It was previously known that Trump wanted to go to the Capitol, but Hutchinson’s testimony established for the first time that people around Trump had advance knowledge of this plan.

The reality of Trump’s intentions became clear to national security officials in real time as they learned the Secret Service was scrambling to find a way for the former President to travel to the Capitol while he was on stage urging his followers to march, according to National Security Council chat logs from that day that were revealed for the first time during Tuesday’s hearing.

The NSC chat logs provide a minute-by-minute accounting of how the situation evolved from the perspective of top White House national security officials on January 6 and, along with witness testimony delivered on Tuesday, contradict an account by Meadows in his book where he says Trump never intended to march to the Capitol.

Hutchinson also testified that some in Trump’s orbit had made clear days before January 6 that Trump wanted to travel to the US Capitol.

She told the committee Tuesday that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told her on January 2 — four days before the US Capitol was attacked by Trump supporters — that “we’re going to the Capitol” on January 6, and that Trump himself was also planning to be there.

Aide recounts secondhand incident where Trump reached for steering wheel: Hutchinson testified Tuesday that she heard a secondhand account of how Trump was so enraged at his Secret Service detail for blocking him from going to the Capitol on January 6 he lunged to the front of his presidential limo and tried to turn the wheel.

Tony Ornato, then-White House deputy chief of staff, told Hutchinson that Robert Engel, who was the Secret Service agent in charge on January 6 that repeatedly told Trump on their way back to the White House after Trump’s Ellipse speech that it wasn’t safe to go to the Capitol.

According to Hutchinson, Ornato recounted Trump screaming, “I’m the f**king President. Take me up to the Capitol now.”

Trump then “reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel,” Hutchinson remembered learning. She added that, according to Ornato, Trump used his other hand “lunge” at Engel.

Engel and Ornato have both testified to the committee behind closed doors, but their statements were not used in the hearing Tuesday.

Keep reading more takeaways here.

Secret Service informs committee that agents are willing to testify and dispute the SUV incident

A Secret Service official familiar with the matter told CNN that Tony Ornato, then-White House deputy chief of staff, denies telling Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson that the former President grabbed the steering wheel or an agent on his detail. 

The Secret Service, through the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Legislative Affairs, notified the committee Tuesday afternoon that they will make the agents involved available to testify under oath, the official said. The agents are also prepared to say under oath that the incident itself did not occur.

The lead agent, Robert Engel, previously testified before the committee and described the interactions with former President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, including the former President’s desire to travel to the Capitol, but Engel was not asked about an altercation or being assaulted, the official said.  

Ornato is now an assistant director with the Secret Service. 

Asked about the Secret Service disputing the testimony, a committee spokesperson said, “The committee trusts the creditability of a witness who is willing to testify under oath and in public but is also willing to hear any and information that others may have that would aid in their investigation.” 

Hutchinson’s lawyer also challenged the Secret Service agents to testify under oath.

“Ms. Hutchinson testified, under oath, and recounted what she was told. Those with knowledge of the episode also should testify under oath,” said attorney Jody Hunt in a Twitter post.

House Republicans privately stunned over testimony: "Enough to make me throw my lunch against the wall"

Cassidy Hutchinson testifies during the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, on June 28 in Washington, DC.

Some House Republicans are privately stunned over the explosive new Jan. 6, 2021 revelations from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson — a trusted and familiar face to many GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers and aides said they were particularly disturbed by an episode where Trump was allegedly so irate about not being taken to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that he lunged at his Secret Service inside the presidential limo and another episode where Trump allegedly expressed support for the “Hang Mike Pence” chants.

One GOP lawmaker said they weren’t able to catch the whole hearing, “but enough to make me throw my lunch against the wall” – a reference to how Trump allegedly threw his lunch against the wall in anger at one point.  

Another Republican lawmaker who was watching the hearing texted CNN: “wow” and acknowledged that today’s hearing contained new and explosive information that shed light on Trump’s mental state on Jan. 6, 2021.

“This does show how emotionally and personally involved Trump was in the January 6 events,” the member said. “He really cared about what was happening at the Capitol. He wanted to be a part of it.”

But this lawmaker was skeptical it would move the needle: “I don’t know how many persuadables there are out there. I mean, if you think President Trump hasn’t done anything wrong with what’s been released previously, today isn’t changing your mind.”

Thompson says Jan. 6 committee will keep pursuing Cipollone, even for a transcribed interview

Rep. Bennie Thompson

Rep. Bennie Thompson, Jan. 6 committee chair, told CNN after Tuesday’s hearing that the committee will “seriously consider inviting” former White House counsel Pat Cipollone “for a transcribed interview or something like that.”

Thompson, who was speaking off camera, would not say whether they have evidence that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows requests a pardon in writing, telling reporters, “Stay tuned for the hearings.” 

Pressed on whether the pardons will be the subject of a future hearing, he said it “will be included.” 

Asked about the urgency behind scheduling today’s hearing with 24-hours notice, Thompson replied: “The fact that we now have someone who worked in the White House, who clearly understands that many things were known in terms of the danger that the vice president faced, that people were breaking into the Capitol, who potentially were armed — they knew about it, and nothing was done for a long, long time, and we had not had a witness, up until Ms. Hutchinson, to step forward and say that.”

Thompson also said that they have not talked to the Department of Justice about potential witness tampering by Trump associates, or about Meadows.