In explosive testimony, former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson provided a firsthand account of former President Donald Trump's actions on Jan. 6, including by testifying that he did not care that some of his supporters in the crowd had weapons, and he demanded that his staff remove metal-detecting magnetometers.
Trump, who was reportedly "furious" about the size of the crowd at his rally, said "I don't care that they have weapons. They are not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags (magnetometers) away," according to Hutchinson.
After his speech, he demanded to accompany protesters to the U.S. Capitol, despite the White House counsel's expressing serious legal concerns about him doing so: "We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen."
When he was told that it wasn't safe to go to the Capitol, Trump grew "irate," Hutchinson testified, recounting what she was told by another White House staffer. She claimed Trump attempted to grab the steering wheel of the presidential limousine and said "I'm the effing president. Take me up to the Capitol now." before lunging at the head of his security detail.
Hutchinson told the panel that in the lead-up to Jan. 6, she was "scared and nervous for what could happen" following conversations with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and her boss, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
Jan. 6 panel Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said that it was crucial to hold Tuesday's surprise hearing – which came as a surprise to many when it was announced just one day prior – because Americans needed to hear the new information the panel obtained "immediately."
Here are some takeaways from Tusday's hearing:
Hutchinson began her testimony by describing her role in the White House as she served in two separate positions from 2019 to 2021, testifying that she was often in the room with former president Donald Trump and members of Congress and that she was in constant communication with chief of staff Mark Meadows. Hutchinson first served in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, as a special assistant to the president and advisor to Meadows.
She testified that her days were “dependent on what the president was doing that day” and that it included “a lot of outreach with members of Congress” as well as security protocol at the White House for Meadows and Trump.
Hutchinson went on to detail a conversation she had with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani ahead of Jan. 6, 2021.
Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said that the panel learned that Hutchinson walked Giuliani out of the White House on the evening of Jan. 2, 2021, and asked what she remembers him saying.
As Mr. Giuliani and I were walking to his vehicle that evening, he looked at me and said something to the effect of ‘Cass, are you excited for the 6th? It's going to be a great day!"
“I remember looking at him saying ‘Rudy, can you explain what's happening on the sixth?,’” she said.
Hutchinson recalled that Giuliani said something along the lines of “‘We're going to the Capitol, it’s going to be great. [Trump is] going to look powerful.’”
“He said ’It's going to be the members, he’s going to be with the senators. Talk to the [White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows] about it. Talk to the chief about it. He knows about it,’” Hutchinson added.
After the meeting, Hutchinson said that she went to talk to Meadows about the conversation with Giuliani.
Then-Chief of Staff Meadows said, per Hutchinson: “‘Things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6.’”
"I remember feeling scared," she said. "I had a deeper concern for what was happening with the planning aspects of it."
Cassidy Hutchinson testified on Tuesday that both former President Donald Trump and his chief of staff Mark Meadows were warned on the morning of Jan. 6 that supporters gathered on the National Mall brought weapons with them, yet they failed to take action to stop the ensuing violence.
In previously recorded testimony, Hutchinson – who served as one of Meadows’ top aides at the end of the Trump White House – recalled a meeting between her, Meadows and White House deputy chief of staff Anthony Ornato around 10:00 a.m. on the morning of Jan. 6.
Ornato told Meadows that many of Trump’s supporters gathered on the Mall had “knives, guns in the form of pistols and rifles, bear spray, body armor, spears and flagpoles – flagpoles were one item. And then Tony had relayed to me something to the effect of [...] ‘people are fastening spears onto the ends of flagpoles.”
Meadows only responded to ask whether the president was aware of the report, and did not act further.
Soon after, Hutchinson recalled Trump was “furious” because not enough of his supporters were being allowed through security checkpoints at the Ellipse before he began his noon speech calling for those gathered to march towards the Capitol.
“The advanced team had relayed to [Trump] that the mags were free flowing,” she told the committee, referring to the magnetic security readers that detect weapons. “Everybody who wanted to come in had already come in but he still was angry about the extra space and wanted more people to come in.”
Hutchinson recalled a separate conversation where Trump said of his armed supporters: “‘I don't even care that they have weapons, they're not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away.’”
Committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said the former president had numerous chances to stop the violence on the Capitol Hill, saying: “Much of this information about the potential for violence was known or learned before the onset of the day, enough for President Trump to take steps to prevent it. He could, for example, have urged the crowd at the Ellipse not to march to the Capitol. He could have condemned the violence immediately once it began.”
Instead, Trump delivered an over hour-long speech where he reiterated his false claims of election fraud and pledged to march with the crowd to the Capitol, though he did not follow through on the latter pledge – for reasons learned later in the hearing.
President Trump was determined to either march or ride to the Capitol with his supporters after his speech on Jan. 6, according to witnesses who spoke to the House Jan. 6 committee.
But White House counsel Pat Cipollone was adamant Trump should not visit the Capitol, Cassidy Hutchinson testified Tuesday.
According to Hutchinson, Cipollone told her on Jan. 3, 2021: “We need to make sure that this doesn't happen. This would be legally a terrible idea for us. We have serious legal concerns if we go up to the Capitol that day.”
Cipollone urged Hutchinson to relay his concerns to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, her boss, she testified.
On the morning of Jan. 6, Cipollone approached Hutchinson again and told her to make sure Trump did not go to the Capitol.
“Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of, please, make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy,” she said Tuesday. “Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.”
Hutchinson said Cipollone was concerned that it would look like Trump was inciting a riot and obstructing Congress as it met to vote on certifying the election.
After Trump told his rally crowd that he would walk to the Capitol with them — which he never did — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called Hutchinson upset, she testified.
“He then explained: ‘The president just said he's marching to the Capitol. You told me this whole week you aren't coming up here. Why would you lie to me?’”
She said she assured McCarthy she didn’t lie and that the president would not visit the Capitol.
Hutchinson also testified there was much conversation among White House aides about the rhetoric Trump planned to use in his speech at the Ellipseon Jan. 6, including calling for the crowd to “fight for Trump” and march with the president to the Capitol.
She said White House lawyer Eric Herschmann “had relayed that we would be foolish to include language that had been included at the president's request.”
“Both Mr. Herschmann and the White House counsel's office were urging the speech writers to not include that language for legal concerns and also for the optics of what it could portray the president wanting to do that day,” Hutchinson said.
Following his speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, President Trump wanted to march to the U.S. Capitol with the protestors, but had a "very strong, very angry response" when he was told he could not, Hutchinson testified.
The former White House aide detailed a conversation she had on Jan. 6 with then-White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato and the head of the president's security detail, Bobby Engel, who were inside the presidential limousine, known as "the Beast," which brought Trump back to the White House that day following his speech.
"Tony proceeded to tell me that when the president got in 'the Beast,' he was under the impression from Mr. Meadows that the off-the-record movement [a presidential movement known by a very small group of White House staff, sometimes to avoid alerting the press in advance or to bypass some typical security measures] to the Capitol was still possible and likely to happen, but that Bobby had more information," she said.
Engel told the president, per Hutchinson, that it was not safe to travel to the Capitol, because it was not secured by Secret Service, to which the president responded in an "irate" fashion."
"The president said something to the effect of, 'I'm the effing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,'" Hutchinson testified.
"Bobby responded, 'Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing,'" she continued. "The president reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel."
"Mr. Engel grabbed his arm and 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,'" Hutchinson added. "Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel, and when Mr. Ornato recounted this story to me, he motioned toward his clavicles."
But that account was quickly disputed after the hearing, according to a report from The Associated Press.
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, a person familiar with the matter told the AP.
Former chief of staff Mark Meadows did little to press the president as rioters reached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, his top aide testified, even telling another White House official that the president didn’t “want to do anything” as violence unfolded.
Meadows’ former top aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the committee that as rioters breached barricades at the capitol, Meadows was sitting on his office couch, on his phone, like he had been earlier in the day, watching the events on a small TV in the room.
Asked if he had talked to the president, Meadows told her “he wants to be alone right now.”
“I sort of felt like I was watching — this is not a great comparison — but a bad car accident that was about to happen, where you can't stop it but you want to be able to do something,” she testified.
“I remember thinking in that moment, ‘Mark needs to snap out of this, and I don't know how to snap him out of this but he needs to care,’” she added.
Hutchinson then said she saw then-White House counsel Pat Cippollone “barrel” down the hall to Meadows office and tell him: “The rioters have gotten to the capitol, Mark. We need to go down and see the president now.”
According to Hutchinson, Meadows responded: “He doesn’t want to do anything, Pat.”
She said Cipollone then said: “Mark, something needs to be done, or people are going to die, and the blood’s going to be on your f-ing hands. This is getting out of control.”
Meadows and Cipollone then walked down to the Oval Office dining room, where the president was, Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson on Tuesday recalled the aftermath of attorney general William Barr’s interview with the Associated Press in which he disputed the president by saying he had found no widespread evidence of election fraud, a move that infuriated Donald Trump and ultimately led to Barr’s resignation.
Hutchinson recalled the hours after the Associated Press published the article on Dec. 1, 2020 where Barr said the Department of Justice had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
Soon after, Trump summoned Hutchinson’s boss, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, to the official dining room. After the meeting, Hutchinson walked towards the room, she recalled Tuesday.
“I noticed that the door was propped open and the valet was inside the dining room changing the tablecloth off of the dining room table,'' she said. “He motioned for me to come in and then pointed towards the front of the room near the fireplace Mantel and the TV where I first noticed there was ketchup dripping down the wall. And there was a shattered porcelain plate on the floor.
“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,” Hutchinson continued, adding: “And he said something to the effect of, ‘he's really ticked off about this. So I would stay clear of him right now. He's really, really ticked off about this right now.’”
When asked if it was the “only instance” that she was aware of where the president threw dishes, Hutchinson said it was not.
“There were several times throughout my tenure with the chief of staff that I was aware of him either throwing dishes or flipping the tablecloth [so that] all the contents of the table go onto the floor and likely break or go everywhere,” she said of Trump.
Hutchinson recalled former President Donald Trump’s reaction to hearing rioters were chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” as they marched to -- and ultimately through -- the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
In an afternoon meeting that day, White House counsel Pat Cipollone told White House chief of staff Mark Meadows the administration needed to do something more to stop the rioters’ violence, Hutchinson said. Trump had previously called on Pence to “do the right thing” and stop the certification of the election results, which he refused to do.
“And Mark had responded something to the effect of: ‘You heard him [...] he thinks Mike deserves it, he doesn't think they're doing anything wrong,’” Hutchinson said of the conversation. “To which Pat said something like: ‘This is effing crazy. We need to be doing something more.’”
“I understood ‘they’re’ to be the rioters in the Capitol that were chanting for the vice president to be hung,” she added.
When asked about then-President Trump’s Twitter post attacking then-Vice President Pence on Jan. 6, 2021, which said that he “didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution,” Hutchinson said that she was “frustrated” and “disappointed,” adding that it was “unpatriotic” and “un-American.”
“As a staffer that works to always represent the best of my ability to showcase the good things he had done for the country,” she said, “I remember feeling frustrated, disappointed. Really, it felt personal. I was really sad.”
“As an American, I was thinking it was unpatriotic, it was un-American,” she continued. “We were watching the Capitol get defaced over a lie.”
The committee then played a video clip of former deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger’s deposition, in which he discussed his reaction to Trump’s tweet attacking Mike Pence.
“I read that tweet and made a decision at that moment to resign,” said Pottinger. "That's where I knew that I was leaving that day once I read that Tweet."
Cassidy Hutchinson testified that both her former boss, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, sought pardons from the former president before he left office.
Hutchinson also said Trump wanted to include language about pardons in his Jan. 7 speech the day after the riot, saying Meadows encouraged Trump to do so. Other members of the Trump team, including lawyers Pat Cipollone and Eric Herschmann, told the president to take that portion out.
“There were several lines that didn't make it in there, about prosecuting the rioters or calling them violent,” Hutchinson said of the final version of Trump’s speech. “He didn't want that in there. He wanted to put in there that he wanted to potentially pardon them."
In previous recorded testimony, Hutchinson told committee members that a handful of Republican lawmakers also sought pardons from the president.
Those Republicans who requested preemptive pardons from the president included Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio asked whether Trump planned to pardon members of Congress, but did not ask to be pardoned himself, the panel said last week.
“I guess Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Brooks I know both advocated for the blanket pardon for members involved in that meeting and a handful of other members that were at the December 21 meeting,” Hutchinson said in recorded testimony, adding: “Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon and he was doing so since early December. I'm not sure why.”
“Mr. Biggs [asked for a pardon],” she continued. “Mr. Jordan talked about congressional pardons but he never asked me for one. It was more for an update on whether the White House was going to pardon members of Congress. Mr. Gohmert asked for one as well [...] Mr. Perry asked for a pardon too.”
Hutchinson also said she heard Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene had asked another member of the White House staff about a potential pardon, but said she “didn’t frequently communicate with Ms. Greene.”
In her closing statement Tuesday, Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., showed statements and text messages received by people who have testified before the Jan. 6 panel, which she claimed was evidence of former President Trump and his allies tampering with witness testimony.
Cheney said that the panel commonly asks witnesses whether a former colleague, or anyone else, “would attempt to influence or impact their testimony” and showed two examples of answers they received to that question.
Cheney first showed a statement from a witness which read:
“What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that I’m on the team, I’m doing the right thing, I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in 'Trump' world.
“And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts and just to keep that in mind as I proceed through my depositions and interviews with the committee.”
Cheney then shared a call received by a witness, which read:
“[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”
“I think most Americans know that attempting to influence witnesses to testify untruthfully presents very serious concerns,” she said. “We will be discussing these issues as a committee, carefully considering our next steps.”
In a series of posts on his Truth Social platform, former President Donald Trump responded Tuesday to some of the allegations made by Cassidy Hutchinson in her testimony.
In one post, Trump seemed to respond to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony by saying that he "hardly" knows who she is.
"I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her," Trump said, before calling her a "total phony and 'leaker.'"
Trump went on to recall that "when [Hutchinson] 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?" he added. "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!"
The former White House aide claimed Trump was concerned the crowd wasn’t large enough to look impressive in photos and wanted security to let in supporters with weapons to help increase the size, the president adding he knew those with weapons would not harm him. Trump denied that.
“Who would ever want that? Not me!” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.
Trump also falsely claimed no guns were brought into the Capitol on Jan. 6. More than 70 people have been charged with weapons offenses related to the storming of the Capitol, and five face firearms charges.
The former president called Hutchinson’s claim that he tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House limousine and drive it to the Capitol after his Jan. 6 speech “sick” and her story that he threw a plate of food at the wall in the White House Dining Room “false.”
Hutchinson testified that both stories were relayed to her by other White House employees. The head of Trump’s security detail, who was driving the limousine, was in the room when she was told the story about him, and he did not dispute it, she said.
Hutchinson said she walked into the dining room just after Trump’s alleged tirade there and saw a shattered plate and ketchup on the wall. A valet told her what happened, and she helped to clean up the mess, she said. Trump was allegedly angry about an interview then-Attorney General Bill Barr gave to The Associated Press, when he said the Justice Department had found no evidence of widespread fraud in the presidential election.
Trump also denied ever saying that then-Vice President Mike Pence “deserves it” upon learning that the rioters on Jan. 6 were chanting “hang Mike Pence!”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.