The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection held a surprise hearing Tuesday that featured a key witness: Cassidy Hutchinson, who was a top aide to former president Donald Trump’s last chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
Here are some of her most stunning revelations about Trump:
1. Trump knew his supporters had weapons — and encouraged them to march on the Capitol. And he tried to go, too.
Hutchinson testified that Trump was informed that his supporters were in D.C. armed to the teeth. On the morning of Jan. 6, she said, Meadows and Trump were informed that Trump’s supporters came to his “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse armed with weapons — pepper spray, knives, brass knuckles, stun guns, body armor, gas masks, batons and blunt weapons, the committee detailed. The committee also played police calls reporting people with AR-15s.
Hutchinson said Tony Ornato, the deputy chief of staff who served as a liaison for Secret Service, told Meadows on the morning of Jan. 6 “something to the effect of ‘And these f---ing people are fastening spears on top of flagpoles.’ ”
Trump was mad that the Secret Service wasn’t letting these armed supporters through security, said Hutchinson, who was in a tent with the president before his rally speech.
“I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, ‘You know, I don’t even care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me,’ ” Hutchinson said.
Trump then got onstage and repeatedly told his supporters: “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol.”
The former president denied the accusations on Tuesday, writing on Truth Social: “I didn’t want or request that we make room for people with guns to watch my speech. Who would ever want that? Not me!”
THE ATTACK: The Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol was neither a spontaneous act nor an isolated event.
2. Trump wrestled with Secret Security agent to go to the Capitol
After the speech, Trump got back in his heavily fortified limousine and literally tried to wrestle the steering wheel away from the head of his Secret Service detail to go to the Capitol, according to Hutchinson, who said she was repeating what she heard from Ornato. (Secret Service decided it was too dangerous.)
Here’s how Hutchinson relayed what she heard from Ornato about the moment:
“The president said something to the effect of ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’ to which [Robert Engel, the head of the Secret Service detail] responded, ‘Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing.’ The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. 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 the Capitol.’ Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson testified, and said Ornato motioned to his clavicles to describe a kind of choking motion.
Trump called the accusations “fake” and “fraudulent.” In a statement, the U.S. Secret Service said it has been cooperating with the 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.”
3. Trump threw dishes — regularly
Hutchinson was also in the room on Dec. 1, 2020, when Trump learned that his then-attorney general, William P. Barr, said in an interview with the Associated Press that there was no evidence of widespread election fraud that would call into question Joe Biden’s win.
“I remember hearing noise coming from down the hallway, so I poked my head out of the office,” Hutchinson testified. She said she saw the White House valet inside the dining room, changing the tablecloth on the dining room table. “He motioned for me to come in, and then pointed toward the front of the room, near the fireplace mantle, where I first noticed there was ketchup dripping down the wall and there’s a shattered porcelain plate on the floor.”
She went on: “The valet had articulated that the president was extremely angry at the attorney general’s AP interview and had thrown his lunch against the wall.” Under questioning from Cheney, Hutchinson said this was not the first time the president had thrown dishes when he was mad.
4. Trump didn’t want to call off the rioters
In the days leading up to attack, Hutchinson testified, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was frantically warning that if anyone from the White House, let alone the president, went to the Capitol on Jan. 6, they’d be charged with federal crimes.
She said he told her, in language that sounded almost like begging: “Please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cass. … We are going to get charged with every crime imaginable.”
Fast forward to Jan. 6, and the rioters had broken into the Capitol. Back at the White House, Hutchinson said she saw Cipollone “barreling down the hallway” looking for her boss, Meadows. She overheard the conversation: “I remember Pat saying to him, something to the effect of, ‘The rioters have gotten into the Capitol, Mark, we need to go down and see the president now.’ And Mark looked up [from his phone] and said ‘He doesn’t want to do anything, Pat.’”
She said Cipollone continued to pressure Meadows to convince Trump to call off the rioters: “Something needs to be done, or people are going to die, and blood is going to be on your f---ing hands. This is getting out of control.” They both marched out of the office, down to the dining room where Trump was, she testified.