A former White House aide testified on Tuesday that former president Trump urged Secret Service to allow his armed supporters to attend the speech he delivered on January 6, 2021, ahead of the Capitol riot.
“I don’t f***ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f***ing mags away,” Trump said, according to Cassidy Hutchinson, apparently referring to metal detectors — or magnometers — that were deterring armed Trump supporters from entering the cordoned-off area where he was speaking.
Hutchinson, who was an aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified before the House select committee on the Capitol riot that Trump said at the time, “Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f***ing mags away.”
White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato apparently warned Meadows on January 6 that the crowd seemed ready for violence, with some supporters arriving armed with knives, guns, bear spray, body armor, spears and flagpoles. Hutchinson testified that Meadows did not look up from his phone to address Ornato, asking only if he had informed Trump. Ornato replied that he had.
Hutchinson testified that Meadows “almost had a lack of reaction” to the Capitol insurrection.
She said that Trump grew irate when Secret Service told him he would not be allowed to visit the Capitol after his remarks, and tried to grab the wheel from the driver.
She testified that Ornato told her that when Trump got into his presidential vehicle, known as the “beast,” the president was “under the impression from Mr. Meadows that off-the-record movement to the Capitol was still possible and likely to happen” but that Secret Service agent Bobby Engel “had more information.”
Hutchinson said Engel then told the president that they could not head to the Capitol because the Secret Service weren’t prepared and that it wasn’t secure.
“The president had a very strong, very angry response to that,” Hutchinson testified. “Tony described him as being irate. The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now.'”
“Bobby responded, ‘Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing,'” she testified. “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 towards Bobby Engel and when Mr. Ornato recounted this story to me, he motioned toward his clavicles.”
Earlier in the day, White House lawyers urged speechwriters not to include talk about marching to the Capitol in Trump’s address, Hutchinson testified.
She said Trump wanted to say things like, “Fight for Trump,” “We’re going to march to the Capitol,” and other words about Vice President Mike Pence.
White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said it would be “foolish” to indulge some of Trump’s requests. White House counsel Pat Cipollone said it would be a mistake to march to the Capitol, according to Hutchinson.
“We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen,” Hutchinson quoted Cipollone as saying ahead of January 6.
She testified that House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy called her after Trump said he was marching to the Capitol.
“He sounded rushed and also frustrated and angry at me,” she testified of McCarthy, who allegedly told her, “Don’t come up here.”
Hutchinson’s testimony came during a surprise hearing that the committee announced just one day earlier, saying it would be “to present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony.”
Trump’s former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney called the testimony “explosive” and said he believes Hutchinson is telling the truth.
“My guess is that before this is over, we will be hearing testimony from Ornato, Engle, and Meadows,” he said. “This is explosive stuff. If Cassidy is making this up, they will need to say that. If she isn’t they will have to corroborate. I know her. I don’t think she is lying.”
My guess is that before this is over, we will be hearing testimony from Ornato, Engle, and Meadows.
This is explosive stuff. If Cassidy is making this up, they will need to say that. If she isn't they will have to corroborate.
I know her. I don't think she is lying.
— Mick Mulvaney (@MickMulvaney) June 28, 2022
The committee currently has two more hearings scheduled for July as the Democrat-led panel works to make its case that Trump plotted to undermine American democracy.