Witness Recalls Trump Lunging For The Wheel When Told He Couldn't Go To The Capitol
Former President Donald Trump intended to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after his speech calling for his supporters to march to the Capitol, and became "irate" when told he couldn't, according to testimony Tuesday from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide.
Although having previously been warned against the idea by White House lawyers, Trump told the rally at the Ellipse that day he would go to the Capitol and Secret Service and National Security Council staff communicated about "clearing a route," according to messages shown by the committee. In the communications, security personnel used the code name "Mogul" for Trump.
The president was under the impression that he would be taken to the Capitol following his speech, said Hutchinson, who was then a top aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
When he was told he would have to return to the White House, Trump grew "irate" and said, "'I am the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now!'" Hutchinson testified.
Hutchinson did not witness the incident, but said she heard it from White House Deputy Chief of Staff Anthony Ornato after the rally.
Also in the room when Ornato recounted the incident was Robert Engel, the head of the president's secret service security detail, who had been in the car with Trump, Hutchinson said.
She said Ornato then told her that Trump "reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel."
Hutchinson recounted what Ornato said happened next: "Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, 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 towards Bobby Engel, and when Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me he had motioned towards his clavicles.”
Hutchinson said Engel did not dispute Ornato's account of what happened.
Hutchinson testified that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy contacted her during the rally and asked for her to make sure that Trump didn't come to the Capitol.
She also testified that Trump knew a number of the people who came to his rally on Jan. 6 were armed, and that he urged the Secret Service to remove magnetometers that were being used to screen attendees for weapons because "they're not here to hurt me."
Trump responded to the first half of Hutchinson's testimony posting on Truth Social: "I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and "leaker"), and when she requested to go with certain others of the team to Florida after my having served a full term in office, I personally turned her request down. Why did she want to go with us if she felt we were so terrible? I understand that she was very upset and angry that I didn't want her to go, or be a member of the team. She is bad news!"
Hutchinson's West Wing office was just a few feet away from the Oval Office.