Former Meadows Aide’s Jan. 6 Testimony Denied by Trump, Secret Service

Former Meadows Aide’s Jan. 6 Testimony Denied by Trump, Secret Service
Cassidy Hutchinson, a top former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies during the sixth hearing by the House January 6 committee on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington on June 28, 2022. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Joseph Lord

Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, is facing criticism from President Donald Trump and members of the Secret Service for alleged false statements to the Jan. 6 Committee on June 28 while under oath.

For some observers, Hutchinson’s testimony as a top former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was much anticipated, as Meadows himself has refused to cooperate with the controversial commission.

In December, the House of Representatives voted to hold Meadows in contempt of Congress for refusing two subpoenas by the commission, kicking the charge over to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for adjudication.

Even though Merrick Garland’s DOJ had already decided on a separate instance to pursue criminal proceedings against Steve Bannon, a conservative commentator and former adviser to Trump, in June the DOJ announced that Meadows would not face charges.

During the Tuesday hearing, Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Ranking Member Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) referenced this decision, calling it “puzzling” that the DOJ should “reward” Meadows “for [his] continued attack on the rule of law.”

This latest hearing of the committee was called at the last minute, with Thompson explaining that new information about what was going on in the White House on and around Jan. 6, 2021, should be heard by the American people “immediately.”

Cheney explained further near the start of the hearing.

“Today you will hear Ms. Hutchinson relate certain firsthand observations of President Trump’s conduct on January 6,” Cheney said. “You will also hear new information regarding the actions and statements of Mr. Trump’s senior advisors that day, including his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and his White House counsel.”

In a statement on her behalf after the hearing, Hutchinson’s counsel said: “Ms. Hutchinson is justifiably proud of her service to the country as a Special Assistant to the President. While she did not seek out the attention accompanying her testimony today, she believes that it was her duty and responsibility to provide the Committee with her truthful and candid observations of the events surrounding January 6. Ms. Hutchinson believes that January 6 was a horrific day for the country, and it is vital to the future of our democracy that it not be repeated.”

‘Things Might Get Real, Real Bad’: Alleged Meadows Comment to Hutchinson

During her testimony, Hutchinson alleged that the White House was aware that the rally planned for Jan. 6 could spiral out of control.

The Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally had already been in the works to protest the certification of electoral votes amid ongoing disputes over voter fraud.

Though the protest was intended to be a peaceful demonstration, Hutchinson suggested that Meadows and other White House staff had a notion that it may get out of hand.

Hutchinson said that on Jan. 2, 2021, four days before the planned rally, she escorted top Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani out of the White House, and the two discussed the upcoming rally and the possibility of taking it to Capitol Hill.

Coming back inside, Hutchinson said, “I found Mr. Meadows in his office on the couch. He was scrolling through his phone. I remember leaning against the doorway and saying, ‘I just had an interesting conversation with Rudy, Mark. Sounds like we’re going to go to the Capitol.’”

“He didn’t look up from his phone and said something to the effect of, ‘There’s a lot going on, Cass. But I don’t know. Things might get real, real bad on January 6,’” she claimed.

Not mentioned by the committee were the repeated requests for National Guard reinforcements from U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund in advance of the rally.

Sund, equally aware of the possibility that the rally could become dangerous, made several requests to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her subordinates that the National Guard be brought in to bolster the defenses of the Capitol. These requests were denied, leaving the Capitol less prepared than it could have been.

Though Republicans have continued to emphasize this shortfall, and have promised to look into it with their own probe if they take the House, the January 6 committee has not touched the issue.

Hutchinson Alleges Trump Disputes With Secret Service on Jan. 6

Hutchinson also related several alleged disputes between Trump and the Secret Service on Jan. 6.

According to Hutchinson, the first of these came during Trump’s rally at the Ellipse earlier in the day. The rally, Hutchinson said, looked too small to Trump.

She said he blamed this on the use of magnetometers by the Secret Service. Magnetometers, used by security forces to detect weapons, had been placed at the entrance to the Trump rally that day.

Upset by the smaller crowd size, Trump allegedly asked the Secret Service to remove them.

“‘I don’t [expletive] care that they have weapons, they’re not here to hurt me, take the [expletive] mags away,’” Hutchinson claimed Trump said. “‘Let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the [expletive] mags away.’”

Later, Hutchinson said, Trump grew frustrated after the Secret Service refused to allow him to join supporters at the Capitol protest because the area had not been secured.

Hutchinson then claimed that Trump lunged at a Secret Service agent in anger after they refused to take him to the Capitol before trying to seize the steering wheel from the driver of his vehicle.

In a tweet, former Trump Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney expressed trust in Hutchinson’s claim, but suggested that, if it is a lie or a misrepresentation of what happened, it could force Meadows and others to testify before the Jan. 6 panel.

“My guess is that before this is over, we will be hearing testimony from Ornato, Engle, and Meadows,” Mulvaney wrote in the tweet. “This is explosive stuff. If Cassidy is making this up, they will need to say that. If she isn’t they will have to corroborate.”

“I know her. I don’t think she is lying,” he added.

Trump, Secret Service Deny Hutchinson’s Claims

Trump called parts of Hutchinson’s testimony to the January 6 committee a “fake story.”

In a post on Truth Social, Trump said, “[Hutchinson’s] Fake story that I tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House Limousine in order to steer it to the Capitol Building is ’sick' and fraudulent, very much like the Unselect Committee itself. Wouldn’t even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing.”

Trump also referenced another claim made by Hutchinson during the testimony.

According to Hutchinson, Trump threw his plate of food against the wall in the White House after AP unveiled an interview with then-Attorney General Bill Barr claiming that no widespread fraud had taken place in the 2020 election, a claim that remains disputed.

Following the outburst, Hutchinson claims, she went to help the White House valet clean a splatter of ketchup off the wall.

“Her story of me throwing food is also false,” Trump stated, adding, “and why would SHE have to clean it up, I hardly knew who she was?”

Earlier in the day, Trump had also indicated that Hutchinson was far removed from his inner circle, casting further doubt on her wide-reaching claims.

“I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and ‘leaker’),” Trump said.

He also said that after he left the White House, Hutchinson had attempted to join his team in Florida, but he refused her personally, suggesting she may have had a lingering animus against him.

“She 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,” Trump said. “Why did she want to go with us if she felt we were so terrible? 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!”

Reports have also come in from Secret Service agents suggesting that Hutchinson’s claims about Trump lunging at and trying to seize control of the White House limo were false.

Reportedly, a source close to the Secret Service told NBC’s Peter Alexander that “both Bobby Engel, the lead agent, [and the agent allegedly lunged at by Trump] and the presidential limousine/SUV driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Mr. Trump never lunged for the steering wheel.”
Given her distance from the president, and given the denials streaming in in the aftermath of the last-minute hearings, Hutchinson’s testimony remains largely contested and uncorroborated.

Hope of Trump Indictment, Preventing Possible Reelection Bid, Underpins Hearings

Members of the Democrat-dominated Jan. 6 Committee have made no effort to hide their hope that Trump will face criminal charges for his actions on and leading up to Jan. 6. Charges that lead to a conviction of insurrection may put an end to his chances of running for re-election, which he has indicated he may do.

“I would like to see the Justice Department investigate any credible allegation of criminal activity on the part of Donald Trump or anyone else,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on ABC News’ “This Week.” “They need to be investigated if there’s credible evidence, which I think there is.”

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said the committee has laid out in various legal pleadings “the criminal statutes that we think have been violated,” and claimed that the panel has evidence that Trump knew Democratic rival candidate Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

“I think we can prove to any reasonable, open-minded person that Donald Trump absolutely knew because he was surrounded by lawyers,” Raskin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “He continues to spread [doubts about the 2020 election results] to this very day. He continues to foist that propaganda on his followers.”

“I certainly think the president is guilty of knowing what he did,” Kinzinger said when asked during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” if Trump should face criminal charges. “Seditious conspiracy. Being involved in these, you know, kind of different segments of pressuring DOJ, Vice President, etc.”

It remains unclear whether the DOJ will take the unprecedented step of opening a criminal investigation of Trump, whatever the calls from members of the panel.