In the sixth public hearing on the January 6 Capitol riot, Cassidy Hutchinson, a surprise witness and former White House aide to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified that Trump repeatedly pressed to be allowed to go to the Capitol on January 6.
Her position gave her access to the president and his closest aides in the days leading up to and during the Capitol riot.
Before his speech, when told some of his supporters were armed, Trump said “I don’t even care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me,” Hutchinson recounted. She said Trump instructed staff to let them all into his rally anyway and they could “march the Capitol” from there.
Trump became “irate” when he was told he would not be able to go to the Capitol with the crowd and tried to grab the steering wheel in his vehicle, Hutchinson relayed – information she got from the deputy chief of staff.
Meadows said Trump believed Vice President Mike Pence deserved to be targeted by the rioters, Hutchinson testified.
When Trump tweeted during the riot that Pence did not have the “courage to do what needs to be done”, Hutchinson said she felt “frustrated, disappointed”.
Trump for hours refused calls from some staff and family to tell rioters to stand down, though not all in the White House agreed on a strategy forward.
Here are some of the highlights from the hearing:
- Hutchinson was in the West Wing for the days leading up to and during the riot, and offered firsthand testimony of what she saw and heard.
- Trump knew some of his supporters were armed on January 6 but was not concerned, Hutchinson said.
- Trump tried to grab the steering wheel when he learned his staff were not taking him to the Capitol on January 6, Hutchinson learned from the White House deputy chief of staff who was in the car.
- Trump was resistant to pleas from his staff to do more to call off the riot, telling them hours after they began storming the Capitol to go home and “we love you”.
- Previous hearings have focused on Donald Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election, including pressure campaigns against the Department of Justice, state officials and his own vice president, Mike Pence.
Panel seems to suggest that Trump allies may have pressured witnesses
The January 6 panel alluded to the possibility that some of those who have testified before the committee had been put under pressure before testifying.Liz Cheney said that members of the panel “commonly ask witnesses connected to Trump whether they have been contacted by anyone attempting to impact testimony”. She then shared answers they had received from witnesses – without identifying anyone.
- Liz Cheney said that members of the panel “commonly ask witnesses connected to Trump whether they have been contacted by anyone attempting to impact testimony”. She then shared answers they had received from witnesses – without identifying anyone.
One includes a message telling a witness, “He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”
Another states that a witness was reminded that Trump reads through transcripts of the hearings and that this person was told to “keep that in mind as I proceeded through my deposition”.