What did Jan. 6 witness Cassidy Hutchinson say about Trump? How does it compare to other evidence?

·10 min read

Former White House employee Cassidy Hutchinson dropped quite a few bombshells on ex-President Donald Trump during her high-profile congressional testimony Tuesday.

It remains to be seen how many hit the target.

Trump and his allies are pushing back on Hutchinson's statements that he knew some of the Jan. 6 protesters had weapons, that he engaged in a physical altercation with a Secret Service agent over a march to the U.S. Capitol, and other claims that could be used to make criminal charges against the former president and his aides.

Miss Day 6 of the Jan. 6 hearing?: Trump knew mob was armed and dangerous, bombshell witness says

Hutchinson introduced "important new facts" about Trump, said Barb McQuade, a former federal prosecutor and a law professor at the University of Michigan.

"He knew the mob was armed when he urged them to the Capitol, he wanted to go with them, and then refused to call them off," she said.

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 28, 2022.
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 28, 2022.

Here's a list of what Hutchinson said, the background of the testimony and what it means:

Trump knew some of his supporters were armed

Hutchinson's testimony: "I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, you know, I ... I don't effing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take that effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here."

Background: This is firsthand testimony; Hutchinson said she heard Trump say this before the Jan. 6 "Stop The Steal" rally that took place before the riot at the U.S. Capitol building. The Trump quotes do not appear to be verbatim, but rather Hutchinson's recollection of what was said.

What it means: Legal analysts on social media and elsewhere said the comments indicated that Trump urged his crowd to march on the Capitol even though he knew they were armed, and that could bolster a charge of incitement.

Trump disputed Hutchinson, saying on social media: "I didn’t want or request that we make room for people with guns to watch my speech."

Recap: Trump lunged at a security chief on Jan. 6, demanded to go to Capitol, aide tells hearing

A member of a pro-Trump mob shatters a window with his fist from inside the Capitol Building after breaking into it on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.
A member of a pro-Trump mob shatters a window with his fist from inside the Capitol Building after breaking into it on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Grabbing the wheel; striking an agent

Hutchinson's testimony: "The president said something to the effect of I'm the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now, to which Bobby 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."

She added: "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 to the Capitol.' Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel ... when Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicles."

More: Trump's rage over election led to dish-throwing, assaulting Secret Service agent, aide says

Background: This is secondhand evidence. Hutchinson did not witness this event, but is recounting what Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Tony Ornato told her about this incident, with Secret Service special agent Robert Engel looking on. The Secret Service has indicated it would challenge Hutchinson's account, saying in a statement Tuesday that it would be "responding formally and on the record to the committee regarding new allegations that surfaced in today’s testimony."

What it means: The idea that Trump was prepared to lead an armed crowd to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 could bolster an incitement charge. The alleged incident also speaks to Trump's state of mind on the fateful day. Trump has said he wanted to lead the march and the Secret Service objected, but he denied trying to grab the wheel: "Wouldn’t even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing."

Thousands of Donald Trump supporters storm the United States Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Thousands of Donald Trump supporters storm the United States Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Who wrote a note to Trump?

Hutchinson's testimony: "That's a note that I wrote at the direction of the chief of staff on January 6th, likely around 3:00 (p.m.)... That's my handwriting."

Background: The note was a proposed statement that aides wanted Trump to make urging rioters to leave the U.S. Capitol – and the authorship is now under dispute. A spokesperson for White House lawyer Eric Herschmann told ABC News that he wrote the note presented at the Hutchinson hearing. Also, Trump did not deliver the statement as it was suggested, waiting until later.

What it means: Trump and his allies are using the provenance of this note to try to impeach Hutchinson's credibility. It is a relatively minor point to the committee's basic claim that Trump rejected aides' suggestions about calling off the rioters earlier than he actually did.

Jan. 6 takeaways: An angry Trump pushed to go to Capitol, counsel warned of 'every crime imaginable'

Mark Meadows didn't care about violence

Hutchinson's testimony: "He (Meadows) 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 6th.'"

Background: This is direct testimony about White House chief of staff Mark Meadows from a trusted aide and confidante. Hutchinson also testified that Meadows – and Trump – did not care to take action after protesters broke into the Capitol.

Violent insurrectionists loyal to then President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.
Violent insurrectionists loyal to then President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.

Hutchinson described multiple times she tried to tell Meadows to do something about violence at the Capitol, only for Meadows to stare at his phone as the attack unfolded.

“Have you talked to the President? And he said, no, he wants to be alone right now; still looking at his phone,” said Hutchinson, describing one conversation with Meadows as rioters approached the Capitol.

Who is Mark Meadows?: Meet Trump's chief of staff who defied Jan. 6 committee subpoena

What it means: Hutchinson is a direct witness to these exchanges, which to the committee demonstrate that Trump and Meadows basically did nothing as the riot unfolded.

Other White House aides dispute that contention. Ben Williamson, another ex-aide to Meadows, said that "any suggestion he didn’t care is ludicrous." Williamson said the committee has his testimony about how "Meadows immediately acted when I told him of initial violence at the Capitol that day. They seem more interested in hearsay, speculation, and conjecture as a means of smearing people."

A photo of President Donald J Trump from back stage at the January 6th rally is displayed as Cassidy Hutchinson, former Special Assistant to President Trump, testifies during the sixth public hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol on June 28, 2022.
A photo of President Donald J Trump from back stage at the January 6th rally is displayed as Cassidy Hutchinson, former Special Assistant to President Trump, testifies during the sixth public hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol on June 28, 2022.

Pardon them?

Hutchinson's testimony: When Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., asked whether former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani sought a pardon from Trump after Jan. 6, Hutchinson testified, "He did." When asked whether Meadows ever asked for a pardon, Hutchinson responded: “Mr. Meadows did seek that pardon.”

Background: It's hard to tell how Hutchinson knows about these alleged pardon requests. Other officials have also said that Giuliani and Meadows joined a growing list of actors who sought presidential pardons due to their roles in Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to President Joe Biden.

Prior to Tuesday’s surprise hearing, Hutchinson revealed that five sitting GOP congressmen also sought pardons: Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Mo Brooks, Scott Perry and Andy Biggs. Hutchinson was a point of contact between Congress and Meadows as the congressman attempted to persuade Trump to pardon them.

What it means: Committee members like Cheney argue that pardon requests reflect consciousness of guilt and fear of prosecution. All of the named officials said they did nothing improper.

Testimony: Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows sought pardons related to Jan. 6 attack

Jan. 6 live coverage:: Meadows, Giuliani dispute testimony that they sought pardons

Rudy's role

Hutchinson's testimony: "As Mr. Giuliani and I were walking to his vehicles 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."

Background: Giuliani was a key player in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, constantly espousing Trump’s false claims of fraud. Hutchinson testified that Giuliani scared her in conversation as he hinted toward something happening at the Capitol.

Giuliani has disputed Hutchinson's testimony.

What it means: While not directly tied to Trump, Hutchinson’s testimony signals that Giuliani, like Meadows, knew to an extent what they were doing was legally ambiguous. Both officials have denied acting improperly.

The 25th Amendment

Hutchinson's testimony: “The secondary reasons to that was, you know, think about what might happen in the final 15 days of your presidency if we don't do this. There's already talks about invoking the 25th Amendment. You need this as cover.”

Background: This is firsthand testimony. Hutchinson was close to Trump’s inner circle and had a direct conversation with Meadows about how Trump wasn’t interested in delivering another speech condemning the attack, believing he already did enough on Jan. 6.

Her testimony also confirms early reports following the week of the Capitol attack that members of Trump’s Cabinet held serious discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment, formally deeming Trump unfit as president and removing him from office.

Hutchinson recounted the concerns in the White House. “From what I understood at the time and from what the reports were coming in, there was a large concern of the 25th Amendment potentially being invoked.”

What it means: Hutchinson’s retelling of the White House’s concern about the 25th Amendment further corroborates the Jan. 6 committee’s claim that Trump had little regard for violence before, during and after the Capitol attack.

Ketchup on the wall

Hutchinson's testimony: “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, which was causing him to have to clean up. So I grabbed a towel and started wiping the ketchup off of the wall to help the valet out.”

Background: This is firsthand testimony, at least about the stained wall. The valet apparently told Hutchinson about the alleged plate-throwing incident. It happened after Trump learned about former Attorney General Bill Barr’s interview with the Associated Press refuting the president's bogus claims of election fraud. Trump threw his lunch at the wall in an outburst and left ketchup dripping down the wall.

Responded Trump: "Her story of me throwing food is also false ... and why would SHE have to clean it up, I hardly knew who she was?"

Ketchup on the wall:: Trump aide's testimony lands like grenade at Jan. 6 hearing

What it means: Trump’s fit of anger reveals his thoughts on overturning the election and his fury toward his own staff for publicly disputing his claims of election fraud. When Barr announced his resignation, Trump was ecstatic.

After telling Trump he planned to resign, Trump “pounded the table very hard and everyone sort of jumped in, and he said, 'accepted,'” said Barr in a previously recorded deposition played during Tuesday's hearing.

Trump's states of mind during the election protest and the Jan. 6 insurrection are a key part of the committee's investigation – and of Hutchinson's bombshell testimony.

Said Hutchinson: "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 to let all the contents of the table go onto the floor and likely break or go everywhere."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What Cassidy Hutchinson said and what it means for Donald Trump

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