A former White House aide testified Tuesday that Donald Trump was so intent on going to the U.S. Capitol while vote-counting was taking place on Jan. 6, 2021, that he tried to take control of the wheel in his own presidential limousine and then physically assaulted his chief of security when told he could not go to the building.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, testified Tuesday that shortly after his fiery speech to supporters on Jan. 6 — in which he called on the crowd to "march" to the Capitol and said he would go with them — Trump got inside the presidential limousine known as "The Beast" to leave the area.
While he had expressed an interest in traveling to the Capitol, his security was against the idea. So Trump, Hutchinson testified under oath, took matters into his own hands, reaching for the steering wheel with one hand and "reaching for the clavicle" of his lead Secret Service agent with another.
Hutchinson's testimony offered a number of striking new revelations, including that those close to the president had "expressed concern that it could spiral out of control" in the days prior to the rally.
But it didn't deter Trump or his allies, Hutchinson alleged.
Even the morning of Jan. 6 — as Trump and his allies gathered at the Ellipse so he could give a fiery speech to his supporters — Hutchinson said the former president was told that many of the attendees had weapons and could not get closer to the stage due to magnetometers being used to protect those in the administration.
Brandon Bell/Getty Cassidy Hutchinson
Trump, she said, did not care.
In a text message exchange between she and Deputy Chief of Staff Anthony Ornato and shared to the committee, she described Trump as "f------ furious" due to the crowd size — "because he wanted the arena to be maxed out at capacity," she said.
Hutchinson further testified that she overhead Trump say, "I don't f------ care that they have weapons. They aren't here to hurt me…Take the f------ [magnetometers] away."
In his speech that day, Trump — against the advice of White House Counsel, Hutchinson testified — used phrases like "fight" telling the group: "We're going to march to the Capitol," and saying that that he would march with them.
While she said she did not know what Trump planned to do once he got to the Capitol, she said those close to him, including Perry, were engaged in "discussions about him having another speech outside the Capitol," and "discussions about him going into the House Chamber at one point."
The Secret Service, Hutchinson said, "scrambled" to come up with a way to take Trump to the Capitol, but ultimately determined it would be too dangerous.
Following the rally, Hutchinson said she went back to the White House, where she was greeted by Ornato, who gestured for her to go inside his office.
That's where she saw Robert Engel, the head of Secret Service for Trump that day.
"Did you f----- hear what happened in The Beast?" Ornato asked her.
She continued: "Tony proceeded to tell me that when the president got in The Beast, he was under the impression that he could still go to the Capitol," she said, adding: "When Bobby relayed, 'We are not ... it's not secure,' the president had a very strong, very angry response to that ... Tony described him as being irate."
According to Hutchinson, Engel said that Trump yelled, "I'm the f------ president, take me up to the Capitol now," to which Engel responded, 'Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing.' ... The president then reached up to grab at the steering wheel."
When Engel grabbed Trump's arm to tell him not to take over the steering wheel, Hutchinson said Trump then grabbed at Engel's "clavicle," gesturing to her own throat to demonstrate what she had been told.
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Others who testified to the committee — including Nick Luna and Max Miller — backed up Hutchinson's assertion that Trump had expressed interest in potentially marching or driving down to the Capitol.
Elsewhere in her testimony, Hutchinson offered other insights in Trump's temper, telling the committee that she once walked in to a room in the White House to see a valet cleaning up "ketchup dripping down the wall and a porcelain plate shattered on the ground." The valet told her, she testified, that Trump was angry at an interview Attorney General Bill Barr gave to the Associated Press. Trump, she said, had "thrown his lunch against the wall."
And it wasn't the only time he did that, she added, telling the committee the former president was known to "flip tablecloths to let all the contents of the table go off."
While Trump himself didn't go the Capitol that day, his supporters did, ultimately overtaking security, beating security guards and breaching the building, forcing the evacuation of lawmakers including Vice President Mike Pence.
When Hutchinson finally relayed to Meadows that the crowd had turned violent, she testified that his response was one with "a lack of reaction."
"I remember him saying, 'All right' ... something to the effect of, 'How much longer does the president have left in his speech?'"