It was billed as a surprise hearing with a surprise witness to hear surprising testimony, and within the first few minutes of the Jan. 6 Committee’s hearing Tuesday, it had already lived up to the expectations.
Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified about a number of previously undisclosed items Tuesday, including plans to have President Donald Trump march up to the Capitol on Jan. 6, concerns at the highest levels of the White House that the day could turn violent, Trump’s awareness that rallygoers had weapons on them, his awareness that rioters were chanting ‘hang Mike Pence,’ certain lines in Trump’s Jan. 6 speech that were flagged and ultimately deleted, and the president’s own violence against his Secret Service agents when they refused to take him to the Capitol.
One scene described by Hutchinson played out after Trump finished speaking at the rally. Trump, under the impression that he was going to be able to either walk up to the Capitol with rally attendees or at least ride up to Capitol Hill in the presidential limousine, was told by the Secret Service that wasn’t going to happen.
According to Hutchinson, who was not in the limousine but heard about the episode shortly after everyone returned to the White House, Trump became “irate” and actually tried to grab the steering wheel and drive the vehicle toward Capitol Hill.
“I’m the f’ing president,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson. “Take me up to the Capitol now!”
Amazingly, when the head of Trump’s Secret Service detail continued to refuse, Trump actually lunged toward the agent and tried to strangle him, Hutchinson relayed.
That bombshell—Trump assaulted one of his Secret Service agents on Jan. 6—was just part of the president’s incredible behavior that day.
Hutchinson also testified that Trump threw his lunch against the wall because he was so upset that his aides and the Secret Service hadn’t taken him to Capitol Hill. And she said that, just weeks earlier, Trump also threw his lunch against the wall following an Associated Press interview with his Attorney General, Bill Barr.
“There was ketchup dripping down the wall, and there was a shattered porcelain plate on the floor,” Hutchinson said about that episode.
Hutchinson also shared new information about another presidential dining room scene, this one from Jan. 6, when she overheard Trump, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone discussing the chants at the Capitol to “Hang Mike Pence.”
Hutchinson had entered the dining room to connect Meadows with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) some time after 2 p.m.
Shortly after Meadows and Cipollone left the dining room, Trump tweeted at 2:24 p.m. that “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify.”
When Cipollone implored Meadows to get Trump to try to stop the violence, Hutchinson testified that Meadows responded: “You heard it, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”
When aides finally convinced Trump to put out a video to try to dampen the violence—a video in which Trump ultimately told the rioters “go home, we love you”—Hutchinson testified that Trump was “reluctant” to record a video.
Hutchinson was also able to offer a number of incredible disclosures Tuesday, including some from before Jan. 6.
According to Hutchinson, on Jan. 2, 2021, she escorted Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani out of the White House. Giuliani told Hutchinson then that Trump would be participating in a march on Congress.
“We’re going to the Capitol. It’s going to be great,” Giuliani said, according to Hutchinson.
Slightly confused by those comments, Hutchinson promptly returned to her office in the White House, found Meadows, and asked him about the plan.
“There’s a lot going on, Cass,” Meadows said, according to Hutchinson. “But I don’t know. Things might get real, real bad on January 6th.”
On the actual day of the riot, Hutchinson testified that President Trump was not only aware rallygoers had weapons, he actually wanted the Secret Service to remove the magnetometers that were set up outside the immediate area to enter the Ellipse area for Trump’s Jan. 6 rally.
“Take the f’ing mags away,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson, referring to the metal detectors. “They’re not here to hurt me.”
Trump wanted his supporters to fill the Ellipse area for a better visual, and he feared the magnetometers were dissuading them from entering the area.
The committee also showed text messages between Hutchinson and deputy chief of staff Anthony Ornato, where they discussed rallygoers congregating near the Washington Monument because they didn’t want their weapons confiscated when they went through the magnetometers.
Hutchinson testified that a number of lines Trump wanted included in his Jan. 6 speech were flagged and ultimately deleted by the White House Counsel’s office. Hutchinson said some of those phrases were things like “‘fight for Trump,’ ‘we’re going to march to the Capitol,’ ‘fight for what we’re doing,’ ‘fight for the movement.’”
She added that there were lines about the vice president as well that were flagged and deleted.
Hutchinson was able to provide loads of new insight about the president’s plans to march to the Capitol, and the committee showed National Security Council chat logs that revealed how the NSC was under the impression that Trump would be heading to the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Overall, Tuesday’s surprise hearing offered the clearest insight into Trump’s own behavior on Jan. 6. It painted a picture of an erratic president, who knew lawmakers and his own vice president were under attack, and chose to fan the flames.
She testified that Meadows and Giuliani also both sought pardons, and she said White House officials discussed stripping Trump of power with the 25th Amendment, mostly as a way to give themselves “cover” for their own actions.
Ultimately, those discussions went nowhere.
The committee ended the shocking hearing Tuesday by showing some anonymous texts to witnesses, just hours before they were deposed by the panel, from people close to Trump.
“[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition,” read one text the committee displayed.