Explosive testimony from a White House aide shows Trump encouraged violence from crowd he knew was armed
Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified Tuesday that former President Donald Trump knew there’d be violence on Jan. 6, 2021, didn’t care, encouraged it, and even wanted to go to the US Capitol to join the armed mob as they attacked the Capitol and sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Here are four major takeaways from the hearing:
- Trump thought Vice President Mike Pence “deserves” to be hung: Hutchinson testified that Meadows told White House Counsel Pat Cipollone–after a conversation with Trump as violence broke out at the Capitol on Jan. 6–that the president “thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”
- Trump physically assaulted Secret Service in his presidential motorcade to get to the Capitol: Hutchinson testified that Trump was so desperate to join the mob at the Capitol—against the advice of his security detail—that he attempted to wrench the steering wheel away from secret service agent Robert Engel, and tried to grab Engel’s neck.
“I’m the f-ing president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Trump said.
- Trump knew rally attendees had weapons and wanted them to evade security to attend his speech: Hutchinson spoke about how Trump raged about the presence of magnetometers—which are intended to detect weapons—at his rally on the morning of Jan. 6. Trump demanded his supporters be let in, did not care they were armed, and wanted them to go to the Capitol.
“You know, I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f-ing mags away,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.
- Jan. 6 Committee investigating Trump and allies potentially intimidating witnesses: The hearing closed with a statement from committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney on potential witness tampering.
“While our committee has seen many witnesses, including many Republicans testify fully and forthrightly, this has not been true of every witness, and we have received evidence of one particular practice that raises significant concern,” Cheney said, explaining that they ask witnesses if they have been contacted by former colleagues to influence their testimony.
She then read aloud statements from two witnesses who had been contacted by former colleagues, and viewed them as an effort to sway their testimony. Cheney closed by saying they “will be discussing these issues as a committee carefully and considering our next steps.”