Secret Service Agents Might Refute Under Oath Ex-Meadows Aide's Account of January 6 Events
05:36 GMT 29.06.2022 (Updated: 06:05 GMT 29.06.2022)
© AP Photo / John MinchilloFILE - Violent protesters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. A man who identified himself as a believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory was sentenced on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, to three years and eight months in prison for assaulting police officers at the Capitol during last year's riot. Nicholas Languerand called himself a patriot, but the judge who sentenced him said the rioters who invaded the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, don't deserve that description. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
© AP Photo / John Minchillo
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aid to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, gave live testimony at the House January 6 Committee's public hearing on Tuesday, saying Donald Trump had lunged at a Secret Service agent in an attempt to grab the steering wheel on the day of the Capitol events.
The head of ex-president Donald Trump's security detail and his driver are prepared to dispute under oath an account of Jan. 6 events involving the 45th POTUS given in a live congressional testimony by a former top White House official, Cassidy Hutchinson, NBC news reports.
Secret Service agent Bobby Engel and the unnamed agent who drove the presidential SUV on Jan. 6 are reportedly willing to testify before the US House Select Committee that the ex-president did not “lunge at the steering wheel” in an attempt to get to the Capitol, as suggested in Hutchinson’s testimony.
Furthermore, Tony Ornato, ex-White House deputy chief of staff for operations, who reportedly first heard the account involving the steering wheel during Hutchinson’s testimony on June 28 was also willing to testify it is not true, NBC cited an insider as saying.
The US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol and the Secret Service are believed to be currently in discussions about whether any of the men will appear at a public hearing, broadcast live at prime time.
A ‘Very Strong, Very Angry Response’
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, on Tuesday testified at the sixth public hearing of the US House Select Committee probing the events at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
She offered up a vivid description of an altercation that allegedly took place in the presidential vehicle on January 6.
According to Hutchinson, after his speech addressing the rally at the Ellipse, where he told his supporters he would go to the Capitol with them as Congress certified the 2020 election results, Trump had been intent on following through with his promise.
© AP Photo / Jacquelyn MartinThen-President Donald Trump gestures as he arrives to speak at a rally in Washington, on Jan. 6, 2021.
Then-President Donald Trump gestures as he arrives to speak at a rally in Washington, on Jan. 6, 2021.
© AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin
Donald Trump, she stated, was determined to join the crowd in their march on the US Capitol to block certification of November 2020 presidential election results, which he had dismissed as fraudulent. However, the head of his Secret Service detail, Bobby Engel expressed concerns and decided instead to return Trump to the White House, Hutchinson said.
However, Trump had a "very strong, very angry response," and attempted to grab the wheel of the SUV car himself, according to an account of the altercation ostensibly provided to her by former Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Anthony Ornato.
“I'm the f'ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,” Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Trump told the Secret Service that day.
"The president reached up towards 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.'"
Furthermore, Hutchinson added that Trump "then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel, and when Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he had motioned toward his" collarbone.
When Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., followed up by asking Hutchinson if Bobby Engel disagreed with any part of the story that Anthony Ornato had relayed to her, she said he did not.
28 June 2022, 18:53 GMT
Elsewhere in her testimony, the former aide to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows claimed the ex-POTUS knew about the presence of armed individuals in crowds gathered in Washington on January 6, 2021, but urged them to march on the US Capitol, regardless.
According to Hutchinson, she and other White House officials had been briefed on threats with weapons, including firearms, identified by security in crowds thronging Trump’s rally on the National Mall near the US Capitol. However, in his desire to allow more attendees into the rally at the Ellipse, Donald Trump was said to have urged officials to ditch the use of magnetometer security screeners and allow more individuals, including those with weapons, into the event.
19 June 2022, 21:06 GMT
The White House legal counsel and others expressed concerns about rhetoric wielded by Trump in his speech at the rally on the morning of January 6, where he spoke of marching to the Capitol, Hutchinson also said.
After the public hearing, Donald Trump dismissed the claims made by Hutchinson in a series of 12 posts on his Truth Social networking app. He slammed her as "A Total Phony!!!" while referred to the January 6 Committee as "a Kangaroo Court."
28 June 2022, 12:53 GMT
The Jan. 6 panel had announced an unexpected new hearing on Tuesday “to present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony.”
The bipartisan committee originally said it would hold seven hearings on the initial findings from its investigation into events dating to January 6, 2021. At the time, supporters of then-US President Donald Trump attempted to block certification of presidential election results that the 45th POTUS had dismissed as fraudulent, storming the US Capitol and temporarily dispersing Congress. As a result of events at the Capitol, five people, including a police officer, died.
Trump, accused of "incitement of insurrection," has denied wrongdoing, while denouncing the committee’s work as a ‘witch-hunt’.