Trump tried to force limo to Capitol on day of riot: WH aide
published : 29 Jun 2022 at 02:45
WASHINGTON - Former US president Donald Trump tried to take the steering wheel from his Secret Service limousine driver in a bid to join the crowd marching on the US Capitol, a top aide in his administration testified Tuesday.
Trump got into his car after addressing his supporters at a rally near the White House on January 6, 2021, Cassidy Hutchinson told a congressional panel, and was told he couldn't be with his supporters who were gathering ahead of the protest that turned into a deadly insurrection.
"I'm the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now," Trump said, according to Hutchinson, who said the story was relayed to her by another administration official.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone had voiced legal concerns about Trump marching to the Capitol alongside his supporters, Hutchinson said.
"We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that happen," Hutchison recalled Cipollone warning.
Hutchinson, a former top White House aide with unique access to Trump and the inner workings of the West Wing, was testifying at the sixth June hearing of the House committee probing the attack on the US Capitol.
An executive assistant to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows, she was a central figure in the White House around the period of the insurrection on January 6 last year.
In some of the most explosive testimony from the hearings so far, Hutchinson said Trump and some of his top lieutenants were aware of the possibility of violence ahead of the attack -- contradicting claims that the assault was spontaneous and had nothing to do with the administration.
- 'Things might get real' -
Hutchinson said she recalled her boss saying four days before the insurrection: "Things might get real, real bad on January 6."
Hutchinson had sought out Meadows, she said, after a White House meeting involving Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
As they were heading to Giuliani's car, he asked her if she was "excited" for January 6, she testified.
When she asked what was happening on that day, Hutchinson testified that Giuliani "responded something to the effect of, 'We're going to the Capitol,'" Hutchinson said.
"'It's going to be great. The president's going to be there. He's going to look powerful. He's going to be with the members. He's going to be with the senators. Talk to the chief about it. Talk to the chief about it. He knows about it.'"
She told Meadows what Giuliani had said, she testified.
"He didn't look up from his phone and said something to the effect of, 'There's a lot going on, Cass, but I don't know. Things might get real, real bad on January 6,'" Hutchinson told the hearing.
"When hearing Rudy's take on January 6, and then Mark's response, that was the first moment that I remember feeling scared and nervous for what could happen on January 6," she added.
Hutchinson told the committee that she heard the names of far right groups the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys discussed in the White House as January 6 approached.
Meadows and Trump were aware of the possibility of violence, including that members of the pro-Trump mob were armed when they gathered on the Ellipse that day, Hutchinson said.
- 'Lack of reaction' -
When she told Meadows violence had erupted, Meadows "almost had a lack of reaction," Hutchinson said.
Vice chair Liz Cheney said the committee had obtained police reports that people at the Trump rally on the Ellipse had knives, Tasers, pepper spray and blunt objects that could be used as weapons.
Police transmissions played at the hearing showed that others outside the rally had firearms including AR-15 semi-automatic rifles.
Hutchinson has already been the source of several blockbuster revelations, appearing in videotaped depositions at two previous hearings and memorably naming a group of House Republicans who sought pardons from Trump following the violence.
She was also in contact with officials in the battleground state of Georgia, where Trump infamously pressured officials to "find" enough votes to overcome Biden's victory margin in a phone call that is the subject of a criminal probe.
It was Hutchinson, according to CNN, who told the select committee that Trump voiced approval for the "hang Mike Pence" chants from rioters at the Capitol -- an allegation that was among the many eye-popping claims to come out of the opening hearing on June 9.
Meadows himself has refused to testify before the panel since handing over thousands of text messages and other documents in the early stages of the investigation.
The House of Representatives held Meadows in contempt in December but the Justice Department decided not to charge him.