Explosive testimony at an unexpected Jan. 6 committee hearing on Tuesday shed light on the actions former President Trump took on the day of the vicious attack on the Capitol.
Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as an assistant to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, said Trump had wanted the Ellipse to be fully packed with supporters for his Jan. 6 speech, which was hampered by some d between them looking at distance. in order to avoid going through metal detectors and surrendering their weapons.
“I don’t care if they have guns – they’re not here to hurt me,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson. “Take the shot [magnetometers] go and let my people in.”
The explosive testimony says Trump knew the crowd was armed when he asked his supporters to march to the Capitol to “fight like hell” against certification of the 2020 election results.
Elie Honig, former federal prosecutor, told NPR’s Rachel Martin that Hutchinson’s testimony about Trump asking for the magnetometers to be removed is a “legal matter against Donald Trump.”
“He knew right before he went on stage that this crowd was armed. He knew they were heading to the Capitol and he was so confident that they weren’t going to do anything to him, they were there for him, that he was willing to risk his own safety by telling people he wanted these magazines taken down,” Honig said. “To me, that could lend itself to a conspiracy charge, an obstruction charge, even a seditious conspiracy charge, which requires showing that force was part of the plan.”
Hutchinson also quoted his former boss as saying Trump “doesn’t want to do anything” about calls for violence against then-Vice President Mike Pence.
“He thinks Mike deserves it,” she recalled telling Meadows.
David French, editor of the conservative publication the dispatch, praises Hutchinson for “the most extraordinary congressional testimony I have ever seen”, and said his appearance before the committee changed his skepticism about it, producing evidence that Trump was criminally responsible for the attack on the Capitol.
“Hutchinson’s sworn testimony fills a gap in the criminal case against Trump, and Trump is closer than ever to a credible prosecution,” he said. wrote.
The right Washington Examiner said Hutchinson’s testimony “should spell the end of former President Donald Trump’s political career” and that “Trump is unfit to be close to power again.”
The hearings, which have been extended due to new evidence, will likely include additional testimony from Hutchinson.
Former Attorney General William Barr Told The New York Times that the hearing “definitely gave investigators a lot to chew on”.
Trump rejects Hutchinson’s testimony
Trump appeared to distance himself from Hutchinson after his testimony before the committee, writing that he “barely knows[s]” her, “apart from the fact that I hear very negative things about her (a total false and ‘leaker’).
Trump added in posts on Truth Social, a social media platform he controls, that he “didn’t want or ask that we make room for people with guns to watch my speech” and called his testimony of “false” and “sick”.
What happened in Trump’s limo on January 6?
In his testimony, Hutchinson said Trump had every intention of going to the Capitol on Jan. 6 and became “irritated” when told it wasn’t going to happen.
Hutchinson said Trump felt like he would be taken to Capitol Hill after his remarks at the Ellipse that day. She testified that Tony Ornato, then White House deputy chief of staff for operations, told her later that day that Trump had become furious when the Secret Service refused to take her to the Capitol and instead insisted. to return to the White House.
“I’m president effing,” she said. Ornato quoted the president as saying. Hutchinson added that Ornato told him that Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the vehicle and then grabbed the officer himself.
“When Mr. Ornato told me that story, he gestured toward his collarbones,” she said.
When questioned, Hutchinson testified that the agent, Bobby Engel, Trump’s Secret Service detail chief, was present when Ornato told him the story and did not dispute the account.
Several news outlets reported that Ornato denied telling Hutchinson about the incident and that he and Engel were prepared to testify that it did not happen.
The Secret Service said in a statement that the agency had cooperated with the committee and would respond to Tuesday’s allegations on the case.
Honig told NPR that reports that question the anecdote about what happened in Trump’s vehicle are potentially damaging.
“It’s what we call a credibility contest, and people should decide who they believe in,” Honig said.
“I think it’s really important to note that another White House staffer, Alyssa Farah … has publicly stated that she testified before the committee about something Tony Ornato told her that was damning to the president and Ornato, she said, falsely denied that too,” Honig said. “If I have to choose between Cassidy Hutchinson and Alyssa Farah…and Tony Ornato, I’ll side with Hutchinson and Farah.”
“She came across to me, using my old lens as a prosecutor, as very believable,” Honig added. “She’s been careful, she’s corroborated, she’s backed up by other evidence. And she has nothing to gain by doing that.”
Hutchinson’s attorneys said in a statement Wednesday that “Ms. Hutchinson stands by all of the testimony she provided yesterday, under oath, to the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. United States”.
Speaking to NPR’s A Martinez On Wednesday, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who serves on the Jan. 6 committee, said Hutchinson had “no reason to make this story up” and that he considered her a credible witness. He added that if there are others with evidence, he invites them to come forward under oath.
“We’re all yours,” he said.
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