Former White House Staffer Says Trump Encouraged Jan. 6 Riot
WASHINGTON — The most condemning testimony yet among six House hearings into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol came from a Trump White House staff member Tuesday.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former assistant to the president’s chief of staff, testified that President Donald Trump appeared to encourage the violence at the Capitol, including an effort by rioters to kill the vice president.
As the crowd assembled on the White House Ellipse before Trump’s inflammatory speech where he suggested a march on the Capitol, the former president told the Secret Service to stop using metal detectors to screen the attendees, Hutchinson said.
“I overheard the president say something to the effect, I don’t care if they have weapons,” Hutchinson told the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
About the same time, Capitol Police reported observing AR-15 rifles, Glock pistols and improvised weapons on a few members of the mob.
After telling the crowd to march to the Capitol to prevent Congress and Vice President Mike Pence from certifying the 2020 election results, Trump told them, “I’ll be there with you.”
Hutchinson said Trump tried to accompany the mob to the Capitol but that he was prevented by the Secret Service.
At one point, he reached for the steering wheel from a Secret Service agent in his car to force him not to return to the White House, she said. As the Secret Service agents insisted on keeping Trump away from the Capitol, he became enraged and grabbed at the neck of a member of his security staff.
Hutchinson said other White House staff members told her that Trump said, “I’m the f- – -ing president, take me up to the Capitol now.”
At another point, the mob started shouting, “Hang Mike Pence,” as the vice president sought to certify a win of the presidency for Joe Biden.
When Trump’s advisors told him about the threat to Pence and suggested that he tell the mob to leave the Capitol, the former president refused to take action, Hutchinson said.
She quoted her boss, Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, referring to the former president when he said, “He doesn’t want to do anything.”
Trump also reportedly said, “Mike deserves it.”
Hutchinson implied that Trump attorney Rudolph Giuliani might have known an insurrection at the Capitol was coming before Jan. 6. She told about a conversation she had with Giuliani in the parking lot outside the White House.
“Gosh, are you excited for the sixth, it’s going to be a great day,” Hutchinson quoted Giuliani as saying.
When she asked what he meant, she said Giuliani “responded to the effect, we’re going to the Capitol, it’s going to be great.”
Members of the House select committee continued with their words of outrage like in the five previous hearings.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said Trump “could have taken multiple other steps” to stop the violence but refused.
While she praised Hutchinson, she also accused Trump loyalists of trying to intimidate other witnesses. Several members of the Trump administration have ignored or fought subpoenas from the committee.
Cheney said a different witness was told by an unnamed person that Trump “wants me to let you know that he is thinking about you” the day before the witness gave the committee a deposition.
Federal law prohibits intimidation of witnesses.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the select committee, said, “We’ve shown that this effort was based on a lie, a lie that the election was stolen.”
Another response came in a tweet from Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Trump administration.
“This is explosive stuff,” Mulvaney said about Hutchinson. “I know her. I don’t think she’s lying.”
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