Not wanting to be left out of the bothsidesing on this one, Politico jumped in to report that the committee did not reach out to the Secret Service before this hearing. “[W]e were not asked to reappear before the Committee in response to yesterday’s new information and we plan on formally responding on the record,” Anthony Guglielmi, the service’s chief of communications told Politico in an email.
“We have and will continue to make any member of the Secret Service available,” Guglielmi said. Note that the agency is not disputing the content of Hutchinson’s testimony, just that the agency wasn’t contacted about it beforehand. And never mind that Engel already testified to the committee in private session and told it that Trump got into the vehicle with the intention of going to the Capitol. Whether he talked about what happened inside the armored Suburban isn’t public. But the headline from Politico: “Secret Service: Jan. 6 committee didn’t reach out before Hutchinson’s explosive Trump testimony.”
Meanwhile, here’s what else Hutchinson testified to and what the committee revealed, which no one is disputing but which is also being swept aside by reporters looking for some kind of “but her email” story:
- Rudy Giuliani was in the White House in the days leading up to Jan. 6 for planning, and Hutchison said “I recall hearing the terms ‘Proud Boys’ and ‘Oath Keepers’ when [Rudy] Giuliani was around.” She also recalled her boss, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, telling her “things might get real, real bad on January 6” when she asked about what Giuliani was talking about.
- The Secret Service informed Trump and his advisers at the rally that there were people with rifles, pistols, spears, and body armor outside the Ellipse and Trump’s response was that the Secret Service should take down the metal detectors to let them in. “I don’t fucking care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the fucking [magnometers] away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.”
- After White House counsel Pat Cipollone confronted Trump about the direct threat to Vice President Mike Pence during the siege of the Capitol, that the crowd was chanting “hang Mike Pence,” she heard Meadows tell Cipollone “You heard him, Pat, he thinks Mike deserves it.” She said Meadows told the White House counsel, in her hearing, “He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”
- On January 7, 2021, Trump’s inner circle made him record a video condemning the riot. Hutchinson said Trump deleted references in the original drafts about prosecuting the rioters, and that he “wanted to put that he wanted to potentially pardon them,” because he “didn’t think that they did anything wrong.” She testified that “He thought … the person who did something wrong that day was Mike Pence by not standing with him.”
- Hutchinson testified that Meadows wanted that pardon language included as well, but the White House counsel advised against it. Also, she testified that Meads and Giuliani sought pardons.
The committee also provided evidence Tuesday that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn repeatedly pleaded the Fifth to questions about the events of Jan. 6, including refusing to answer this question: “Do you believe in the peaceful transfer of power?”
The committee also provided evidence—and the promise of much more in follow up hearings—of ongoing attempts by the Trump inner circle to intimidate witnesses and tamper with their testimony.
None of this is being disputed by the anonymous sources or by the Secret Service spokesperson. Not one of them—anonymously or openly—has denied the testimony about Trump being informed about the weapons, demanding the metal detectors be removed, and telling people to go to the Capitol.
They’re also not talking about the fact that Tony Ornato, took leave from his job as detail leader with the Secret Service to become Trump’s deputy chief of staff in 2020. He was part of the team that planned Trump’s infamous Bible photo op in Lafayette Square after peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters were attacked with rubber bullets, flash bangs, and tear gas.
By the way, former White House communications direct Alyssa Farah told CNN’s Jake Tapper that “she has told the truth under oath” to the committee, about that incident, “only to have Ornato dispute her claim while NOT under oath.” Farah says she told Ornato and Meadows “to give a warning to the press that they’d be clearing the park so members of the press wouldn’t get hurt. He said on the record to reporters it was untrue.” But, Farah says, “half a dozen people heard it.”
Ornato is back with the Secret Service after that stint with Trump, and is now overseeing the Rowley Training Center. He’s actually training new Secret Service agents. So it is worth taking anything that the Secret Service says not under oath with a very large helping of salt.
And to demand better from the media by looking at the larger picture. None of the critical aspects of what the Jan. 6 committee has made public have been refuted, just the trivial—whether Trump got his hand on a steering wheel or an agent’s neck or not. That’s a distraction. It does nothing to refute the building case of Trump’s seditious conspiracy to overthrow the government.