Did former Presidnet Donald Trump rebuff his own security’s warnings about armed protesters in the Jan. 6 rally crowd and make a desperate attempt to join his supporters as they marched to the Capitol.
According to dramatic new testimony before the House committee investigating the 2021 insurrection, Cassidy Hutchinson, a little-known former White House aide, described an angry, defiant president who was trying that day to let armed protesters avoid security screenings at a rally that morning to protest his 2020 election defeat.
According to CBS News and ABC News sources, U.S. Secret Service agents have rebuffed Hutchinson’s most explosive claim: That Trump attacked a Secret Service agent and grabbed at the steering wheel of the presidential SUV when the Secret Service refused to let him go to the Capitol.
🚨 A source close to the Secret Service tells me both Bobby Engel, the lead agent, and the presidential limousine/SUV driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Mr. Trump never lunged for the steering wheel.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) June 28, 2022
New: Source close to the Secret Service tells @PierreTABC to expect the Secret Service to push back against any allegation of an assault against an agent or President Trump reaching for the steering wheel.
— John Santucci (@Santucci) June 28, 2022
The confusion has led to accusations that Hutchinson may have exaggerated — or even fabricated — the entire sworn testimony. Some conservative commentators accused her of perjury.
Hutchinson said during the hearing that she was not a direct witness, and her claims were a second-hand account.
U.S. Secret Service agents will offer direct first-hand testimony to the committee and will respond under oath to the new allegations.
“U.S. Secret Service has been cooperating with the Select Committee since its inception in spring 2021, and will continue to do so, including by responding on the record to the Committee regarding the new allegations surfaced in today’s testimony,” the agencies statement said Tuesday.
US Secret Service statement:
“U.S. Secret Service has been cooperating with the Select Committee since its inception in spring 2021, and will continue to do so, including by responding on the record to the Committee regarding the new allegations surfaced in today’s testimony."
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) June 28, 2022
If proven true, the testimony painted a damning portrait of the chaos at the White House as those around the defeated president splintered into one faction supporting his false claims of voter fraud and another trying unsuccessfully to put an end to the violent attack.
If proven false, the testimony will likely end any credibility of bipartisanship and truth-finding of the January 6 committee.
The explosive statements came at a surprise hearing announced just 24 hours earlier, and were the sole focus at the hearing, the sixth by the committee this month.
Hutchinson said that she was told Trump fought a security official for control of the presidential SUV on Jan. 6 and demanded to be taken to the Capitol as the insurrection began, despite being warned earlier that day that some of those in the crowd may be armed.
The former aide said that she was told of the altercation in the SUV immediately afterward by a White House security official, and that Bobby Engel, the head of the detail, was in the room and didn’t dispute the account at the time. Engel had grabbed Trump’s arm to prevent him from gaining control of the armored vehicle, she was told, and Trump then used his free hand to lunge at Engel.
That account was quickly disputed on Tuesday, however. Engel, the agent who was driving the presidential SUV, and Trump security official Tony Ornato are willing to testify under oath that no agent was assaulted and Trump never lunged for the steering wheel, multiple reports said.
Some of Hutchinson’s former colleagues defended her account. Mick Mulvaney, who preceded Meadows as Trump’s chief of staff, tweeted that he knows Hutchinson and “I don’t think she is lying.” Sarah Matthews, a former Trump press aide who has also cooperated with the committee, called the testimony “damning.”
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The young ex-aide was matter-of-fact in most of her answers. But she did admit that she was “disgusted” at Trump’s tweets during the riot.
On social media, Trump vigorously denied her claims.
The Associated Press contributed to this article