Trump lunged at head of security, demanded to go to Capitol on Jan. 6, aide says
In stunning testimony delivered Tuesday at the sixth public hearing on the Capitol assault, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, said recounted hearing about how President Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle and lunged at his head of security after he was told he could not go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Hutchinson said that after Trump delivered his speech to the crowed at the Ellipse that day, she returned to the White House and saw Anthony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official who was detailed to the White House and served as deputy chief of operations. Ornato pulled her into his office, where Trump’s head of security at the time, Robert Engel, was sitting in a chair looking “somewhat discombobulated and a little lost,” she said.
She said Ornato told her that when Trump entered “The Beast” — the president’s heavily armored SUV limousine — he still believed it would be possible for him to go to the Capitol. But when Engel told him they couldn’t for security reasons, Trump had “a very strong, very angry response,” she said she was told.
“The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now,'” she said.
When told that wouldn’t be possible, Trump “reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel,” she said Ornato told her.
Engel then 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,” she said.
In response, she said, Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Engel, noting that when Ornato told her the story, he “motioned towards his clavicles.”
Hutchinson told the committee that Engel did not correct or dispute anything Ornato said.
After the hearing, the Secret Service released a statement that said it intended to respond to Hutchinson’s testimony. “The United States Secret Service has been cooperating with the Select 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,” U.S. Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement to CBS News.
A source close to the Secret Service confirmed to CBS News that Engel and the driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was physically attacked or assaulted by Trump and that the former president never lunged for the steering wheel of the vehicle.
They do not dispute that Trump was irate or that he demanded to be taken to the Capitol, in the language that Hutchinson related to the committee.
The committee also played recorded testimony from then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who said that after returning to the White House, Trump still attempted to go to the Capitol.
“I believe when we got back to the White House, he said he wanted to physically walk with the marchers,” McEnany said. “According to my notes, he then said he would be fine with just riding in the Beast. To the best of my recollection, he wanted to a be part of the march in some fashion.”
Hutchinson’s testimony about what transpired in the car is one of many revelations that emerged during the hearing. Hutchinson also said Trump knew that some members of the crowd at his rally at the Ellipse, ahead of the Capitol riot, had guns and other weapons, but said he didn’t care and wanted them to be let into his rally anyway.
She testified that Trump said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away.”
Trump responded to Hutchinson’s testimony on his social media startup, 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”),” he wrote.
He also addressed the alleged car incident directly, calling it both “Fake” and “‘sick’ and fraudulent.”
“Wouldn’t even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing,” Trump added.
Separately, Trump said, “The woman, who was a BIG Trump fan long AFTER January 6th (if her Fake Stories were true, why would she want to be?), was let go and not wanted in Florida, so she made up phony and completely outrageous stories, the craziest of which has already been proven to be a complete lie. The Secret Service said, according to the Media, it wasn’t true. Wow! She has now lost all credibility, just like the partisan Witch Hunt perpetuated by the Unselect Committee of political hacks. MAGA!”
Nicole Sganga contributed to this report.
- Donald Trump
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I have been writing professionally for over 20 years and have a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional elements that affect people. I’m an experienced ghostwriter and editor, as well as an award-winning author of five novels.