Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson has testified that Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the presidential SUV away from the driver in an attempt to get to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, gave her testimony Tuesday in front of the House select committee investigating the riot.
She claimed that, after Trump’s speech at the Ellipse, he got into the SUV under the impression that he was going to the Capitol.
He had a “very strong, very angry response” when the head of his Secret Service detail, Bobby Engel, said they were going to the White House, Hutchinson explained.
Relaying what she was told later that day by another White House aide, Tony Ornato, Hutchinson claimed “The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the f***ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now'”.
“The president reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm and said, ‘Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol.’ Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel,” she continued.
According to Fox News, Engel and the unnamed SUV driver are prepared to testify before the Jan. 6 committee that the president did not lunge at the steering wheel.
In his own statement, Trump said “Her Fake story that I tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House Limousine in order to steer it to the Capitol Building is ‘sick’ and fraudulent, very much like the Unselect Committee itself – Wouldn’t even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing”.
During her testimony, Hutchinson also alleged that Trump threw his lunch against the wall after Bill Barr announced in Dec. 2020 that the Department of Justice had found no evidence of widespread election fraud.
Meadows reportedly warned Hutchinson four days before the riot that “things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6”. After rioters breached the Capitol, Meadows informed White House counsel Pat Cipillone that Trump didn’t “want to do anything”.
“I remember Pat saying something to the effect of, ‘Mark, we need to do something more. They’re literally calling for the vice president to be f–king hung,'” Hutchinson explained.
“And Mark had responded something to the effect of, ‘You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong,” she added.
Several lawmakers and former Trump White House staffers came to her defense on social media.
“Anyone downplaying Cassidy Hutchinson’s role or her access in the West Wing either doesn’t understand how the Trump WH worked or is attempting to discredit her because they’re scared of how damning this testimony is,” said Sarah Matthews, a White House deputy press secretary during Trump’s last year.
Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger tweeted “Cassidy Hutchinson is one of the most brave and honorable people I know”.
Others are claiming she lied under oath and comparing her to Amber Heard and Jussie Smollett.