In some of the most astounding testimony produced so far in the public hearings concerning Jan. 6, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified to how everyone involved—from Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy to White House attorney Pat Cipollone—worked to keep Donald Trump from joining in the riot already underway outside the Capitol. In spite of this, Trump reportedly insisted on going, and even attempted to grab the wheel of the presidential limousine and assault security chief Robert Engel in an effort to make the Secret Service take him to the Capitol, where members of the Proud Boys had already led the crowd through police lines.
As he was leaving the rally at the Ellipse, Trump reportedly instructed Engel, the head of his security detail, to take him to the Capitol. When Trump got into the limo, he had reportedly been told by Meadows that they were going to the Capitol, but Engel told him it wasn’t a secure location and they would instead would go back to the White House. Trump had a “strong, very angry” response to this. When Hutchinson returned to the White House, she was told what happened next by White House chief of operations Anthony Ornato.
Hutchinson: “The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the f’ing president, take me up to the Capitol now!’ To which Bobby responded, ‘Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing.’ The president reached up to 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.’ Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel. And when Mr. Ornoto told the story to me, he motioned toward his clavicle.”
Throughout her testimony, Hutchinson made it clear that others were aware that Trump appearing at the Capitol would be seen as a signal authorizing the assault on Congress. Hutchinson reported that Cipollone had visited with her before Trump’s speech, begging for her to make sure he did not go, and that Kevin McCarthy had called her backstage at the rally, angered that Trump was still telling the crowd to march on the Capitol and that he would join them here.
Previous testimony indicated that Alex Jones and members of the Proud Boys had called on the crowd to move to the east side of the Capitol, where they claimed that “Trump would join them” to deliver another speech. Everything in Hutchinson’s testimony indicates that this was absolutely Trump’s plan. Even as they were leaving the rally, Trump still fully intended to go to the Capitol and personally lead the attack.
The testimony reporting that Trump planned to go to the Capitol followed earlier testimony from Hutchinson in which she said that Trump wanted magnetic metal detectors (aka “mags”) taken down so that his supporters could go armed, because they were there to support him.
Hutchinson: “I overheard the president say something to the effect of, ‘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.”
Everything about this testimony invites further questioning—of Meadows, of Ornato, of Engel, and of just how it was that Jones and the Proud Boys seemed to be aware of Trump’s plan. Which certainly now appears to have included personally leading an armed insurrection from the steps of the Capitol.
Sign the petition: Don't let the Jan. 6 Committee's work go to waste. DOJ must investigate and prosecute Donald Trump.