Cassidy Hutchinson, a former assistant to President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, lashed out on Tuesday during an impromptu hearing called by the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Uprising. She said the former president and his chief of staff had advance knowledge of the threat of violence and that Trump at one point attempted to steal his own limousine and steer it in the direction of the ongoing unrest.
Describing National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien’s and others’ warnings about the possibility of violence at the Capitol, Hutchinson testified that despite knowing his supporters had guns, Trump wanted to remove metal detectors and other security measures from his rally.” Stop theft” that precedes the attack. Although rally participants who passed security checks were found to have weapons, Vice Chair Liz Cheney said at the hearing that “thousands” of others escaped the checks by watching the rally from a distance.
Hutchinson, who was Meadow’s top aide for about 10 months after serving in the White House legislative affairs office, testified under oath that the possibility of January 6 violence was well known and widely discussed by the most senior members of the Trump campaign in the United States. days before the event that members of the secret service had received reports that the participants in the rally had been armed the night before; and that the National Security Adviser warned the White House days before January 6 that members of Congress could be targeted.
In a videotaped testimony played by the committee, Hutchinson described a meeting before the rally with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, in which she recalled references to both the Oathkeeper militia and Proud Boys. A grand jury charged members of both groups with sedition. Prosecutors argued that the reports show that militia leader Stuart Rhodes believed that Trump might call the group to “help him inside D.C.”
Hutchinson further testified that on the day of the uprising, no later than 10:15 a.m., White House Chief of Operations Tony Ornato confirmed that he had briefed Trump on various weapons found on the rally participants. Hutchinson said that during a meeting at 10 a.m. that morning, she and Ornato attempted to brief Meadows on the threat, describing weapons including “knives, guns – in the form of pistols and rifles – bear spray, bulletproof vests, spears and flags.”
“Then [Ornato] told me something along the lines of, “These weirdos are attaching spears to the ends of flagpoles,” Hutchinson said.
Sitting on the couch in her office, Meadows rarely took his eyes off his phone, she said. Meadows then asked Ornato if he had briefed the president on the weapon. Hutchinson said that Ornato answered in the affirmative.
“Do you understand that Mr. Ornato told the President about the weapons at the rally on the morning of January 6?” Cheney asked Hutchinson. “This is what Mr. Ornato gave me,” Hutchinson said.
Cheney played audio recordings of police broadcasts obtained by the committee. Several nearby officers reported weapons, including firearms, among the crowd. In one video, an officer is heard warning that gunmen have begun climbing trees to take up an elevated position above the rally. The weapons described by officers included AR-15s and Glock pistols.
“AR-15s on 14th and Independence,” Cheney said, echoing one of the officers on the tapes. The crossroads is just a few blocks from the Capitol.
According to Cheney, thousands of rally participants refused to go through security checks. According to her, pepper spray, knives, brass knuckles, stun guns, bulletproof vests, gas masks, clubs and other edged weapons were found in those who passed through the discovered metal and were checked for weapons.
Cheney showed photographs provided by the National Archives showing Trump in a tent backstage before his speech. “You were in some of the photographs too,” she said. “I just want to confirm that this is what you heard from the president: the men with guns were not there to harm him and that he wanted the secret service to remove the magnetometers (metal detectors)?”
“That’s right,” Hutchinson said, noting that the conversations took place minutes before Trump took the stage around noon.
Cheney asked the audience to reflect on Trump’s own words while keeping Hutchinson’s testimony in mind. “President Trump knew that some people in the crowd had guns and body armor, and that’s what President Trump ordered the crowd to do.” Then a video of the president’s speech was shown. “We will go down and I will be there with you,” Trump says, “we will go to the Capitol.”
Hutchinson further testified that Ornato gave her his account of what happened on Trump’s trip after the rally, when Trump’s security team informed him that he would not be allowed to join the crowd at the Capitol. (Although the word “limousine” was used in the hearing, the Washington Post reports video shows Trump leaving the rally in a Secret Service SUV.)
According to Hutchinson, Ornato claimed that Trump rushed to the steering wheel, yelling, “I’m in charge.” [fucking] the president. Take me to the Capitol immediately. Hutchinson said that according to Ornato, Trump’s chief of staff Robert Engel grabbed the president’s arm, telling him that the West Wing was his only destination.
In a series of posts on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump criticized Hutchinson as a “liquor” and “an absolute counterfeiter.” “There is no cross-examination of this so-called witness,” the ex-president said, calling the process a “kangaroo court!” As the hearings drew to a close, Trump’s political action committee sent out an email to millions of supporters telling them to “act NOW” by buying a signed photo of Trump for $75.
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