A witness has testified that a furious President Donald Trump assaulted the head of his Secret Service detail in the presidential vehicle after being told he could not go to the U.S. Capitol amid a mushrooming riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, related the account on Tuesday during her appearance before the U.S. House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol.
She said a top White House official, Tony Ornato, who served as White House deputy chief of staff, told her that story in the presence of the Secret Service agent, Robert Engel, with whom Trump had the altercation.
After Engel told Trump he could not go the Capitol due to security concerns, the then-president in a fit of anger was said to have reached for the steering wheel. When told to let it go, Trump then lunged at Engel, Hutchinson said Ornato told her.
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Neither Ornato nor Engel ever told her the story was wrong, Hutchinson said during questioning.
That conversation, Hutchinson testified, took place moments after the president, his Secret Service detail and a group of aides, including Hutchinson, returned to the White House after Trump's Jan. 6 rally speech.
Hutchinson also testified that Trump was irate before his speech because metal detectors were keeping armed rallygoers from entering the area closest to where he and others were speaking. Police reports, presented during the hearing, stated some attendees were carrying weapons, including AR-15s and "Glock-style pistols."
But Hutchinson said Trump dismissed the obvious threat saying they were "not there to hurt me" and demanded that the metal detectors be taken away.
Hutchinson also said she received a call from GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy who was angry that Trump had stated during his speech that he would march with rallygoers to the Capitol.
Another White House aide, lawyer Pat Cipollone, also warned that Trump's plans to go to the Capitol would raise serious legal exposure and liability. And upon hearing of "hang Mike Pence chants" among Capitol rioters, Trump said: "Mike deserves it."
Hutchinson also testified that she had helped a White House valet wipe ketchup stains after Trump threw a dish at a wall in anger. That followed Trump's hearing that Attorney General William Barr had told the Associated Press on Dec. 1, 2020, that there was no evidence of massive electoral fraud.
Hutchinson offered the in-person testimony before the Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, violence on Capitol Hill as well as allegations that Trump abused his powers to remain in office despite losing the November 2020 election.
In a statement on Truth Social, Trump said he "hardly" knew Hutchinson, but then described her as "a total phony and 'leaker.' " He also said he personally "turned her request down" when Hutchinson asked to join his team in Florida. "She is bad news," he wrote.
He then posted 11 more missives on the platform denying he was dismissive of the threat against Pence and saying her "made up" statements were evidence of "a social climber."
And Trump also denied he "complained" about the crowd for his Jan. 6 rally speech, or that he wanted to "make room for people with guns to watch my speech."
Antonio Fins is a politics and business editor at the Palm Beach Daily News, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at email@example.com. Help support our journalism. Subscribe today.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Jan 6 hearings: Trump assaulted Secret Service agent in "The Beast"