The House select committee investigating the U.S. Capitol attack heard stunning stunning testimony on Tuesday from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
She told the committee and an international TV audience that then-President Donald Trump was warned about potential violence and crimes, that he wanted supporters with weapons let into his Jan. 6 rally, and that he then demanded his security detail take him to the Capitol, going so far as to grab the wheel of the presidential limousine, “The Beast.”
This was the sixth hearing this month investigating what the committee says was the conspiracy by Trump and his allies to overturn the election.
Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the committee, raised concerns of witness intimidation in her closing remarks.
The committee showed on a large screen above the members a text message that read: “[A person] let me know 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.”
“I think most Americans know that attempting to influence witnesses to testify untruthfully presents very serious concerns,” Cheney said in her closing remarks, adding that the panel will be discussing the issue and considering next steps.
Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., commended Hutchinson for “doing your patriotic duty and helping the American people get a complete understanding of January 6th and its causes.”
Thompson also encouraged others to come forward.
“If you’ve heard if you’ve heard this testimony today and suddenly you remember things you couldn’t previously recall, or or there are some details you’d like to clarify, or you discovered some courage you had hidden away somewhere, our doors remain open,” he said
It was among the shortest but most shocking Jan. 6 public hearings so far.
Cassidy Hutchinson, for nearly two-hours Tuesday, testified that Trump and Meadows were aware the Capitol was a target and that Trump supporters at the “Save America” rally were armed with weapons when the president told urged them to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6.
She said Trump told aides to let individuals with weapons past security and into the crowd, which he was “furious” with due to its size, with Hutchinson recalling Trump saying, “‘I don’t care that they have weapons. They are not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags (magnetometers) away.’”
Trump wanted to go to the Capitol himself after his speech, she said, and there was even conversation about having him go into the House chamber, despite the White House counsel’s office raising serious legal concerns and the Secret Service raising safety concerns.
Still, demanding to go to the Capitol, Hutchinson recalled learning that Trump grabbed the steering wheel in “The Beast: — the president’s limousine — on the way back to the White House and said, “‘I’m the f—ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now!’” before lunging at a Secret Service agent.
Hutchinson also confirmed Trump instructed Meadows to make contact with a “war room” in the Willard Hotel on the evening of Jan. 5 and advised Meadows against going in person after hearing Rudy Giuliani’s plans for the day, which she said she overheard included “Oath Keepers” and “Proud Boys.”
In a statement to ABC News, Roger Stone said it was “FALSE” that he spoke to Meadows on the phone on Jan. 5 “or any other date.”
In videotaped testimony, Hutchinson recalled seeing Meadows in his office at the White House, flipping through his phone as Trump supporters marched to the Capitol, and then violently breaching it.
“I said, ‘The rioters are getting really close. Have you talked to the president?’” she recalled. “Meadows said, ‘No. He wants to be alone right now.’”
“I felt like I was watching,” she continued in taped testimony, “a bad car accident that was about to happen. You can’t stop it but you want to do something. I remember thinking in that moment that Mark needs to snap out of this.”
She recalled White House counsel Pat Cipollone “barreling” towards Meadows’s office, and saying something to the effect of, “”Mark, something needs to be done, or people are going to die and blood is going to be on your effing hands.’”
She later overheard Cipollone and Meadows talking about the “Hang Mike Pence” chants at the Capitol.
“You heard it Pat — he thinks Mike deserves it. He thinks they aren’t doing anything wrong,” Meadows said to Cipollone when the White House lawyer said they needed to respond, according to Hutchinson.
-ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel
Cassidy Hutchinson said she was “disgusted” by President Trump’s Twitter post during the Capitol attack disparaging then-Vice President Mike Pence for not single-handedly rejecting Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
“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. USA demands the truth!” Trump tweeted.
Hutchinson recalled “feeling frustrated, disappointed, and really — it felt personal. I was really saddened. As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic. It was un-American.”
Matthew Pottinger, who was then serving as the deputy national security adviser, told the committee in previous testimony, it said, that he decided to quit because of what Trump said in that social media post.
“I read that tweet, and made a decision at that moment to resign,” Pottinger said. “That’s where I knew that I was leaving that day, once I read that tweet.”
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