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

·8 min read

WASHINGTON – Former President Donald Trump knew there was an armed mob at his "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6, 2021, and he directed that armed mob to the U.S. Capitol, according to the explosive testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.

Hutchinson, the star witness was a top-level, former White House aide who was in the room with Trump and his chief of staff Mark Meadows during the most perilous moments leading up to and during the insurrection.

Here are the highlights of her testimony:

  • Lunging at Secret Service: She described a former president so unhinged in his final days in office that he assaulted a Secret Service agent in his attempt to grab the steering wheel and join that mob at the Capitol. Trump also threw a porcelain plate on the wall after learning his former Attorney General Bill Barr said there wasn't widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election, according to Hutchinson's testimony.

  • Trump knew of threat of violence: Hutchinson's stunning and historic testimony showed that Trump and his top deputies knew Jan. 6, 2021, could get violent and proceeded anyway with their plan to stay in power.

  • Hutchinson was 'scared and nervous': She expressed worry about what could happen on Jan. 6 after a conversation four days earlier with Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer. She said Giuliani asked her on Jan. 2, 2021, whether she was “excited” for Jan. 6. “It’s going to be a great day,” Giuliani said, according to Hutchinson's testimony.

  • She was in the room: The former Trump aide previously worked for top congressional Republicans before moving with Meadows to the White House, where she handled "a vast number of sensitive issues," according to committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, a Republican House member from Wyoming. Her role gave her a close-up view of the events at the White House on Jan. 6.

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

Star witness: Cassidy Hutchinson testifies at Jan. 6 hearing. Who is the former aide to Mark Meadows?

Who is Cassidy Hutchinson?

Hutchinson testified during the the sixth hearing held by the special House committee investigating Jan. 6 – a hearing that was unexpectedly added Monday afternoon based on evidence the panel said it recently obtained.

Hutchinson was a 5-second walk from the Oval Office and spoke daily with members of Congress, high-ranking Cabinet officials, White House lawyers, Secret Service and West Wing staff.

She testified about what Trump and senior members of his staff knew about the prospect of violence on Jan. 6, 2021, even before the attempted coup began.

Recap of hearing: Trump lunged at a security chief on Jan. 6, demanded to go to Capitol, former White House aide says

Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, prepares to speak at a hearing by the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2022.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, prepares to speak at a hearing by the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2022.

Hutchinson said Meadows on Jan. 2, 2021, said "things might get real, real bad" on Jan. 6, 2021.

Her revealing testimony is why committee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the unexpected hearing was called.

"It's important that the American people hear that information immediately," he said. "That's why in consultation with the vice char, I recalled the committee for today's hearing."

Here are the highlights from Day 6 of the hearing:

What they knew and when they knew it

Hutchinson said she started feeling “scared and nervous” about what could happen on Jan. 6 after a conversation four days earlier with Rudy Giuliani.

She told the committee that Giuliani asked her on Jan. 2, 2021, whether she was “excited” for Jan. 6. “It’s going to be a great day,” Giuliani said, according to Hutchinson's testimony.

Hutchinson shared Giuliani’s comments with Meadows, her boss.

“He didn't look up from his phone and said something to the effect of there's a lot going on … Things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6,” Meadows said, according to Hutchinson.

That evening was the first moment Hutchinson said she remembered "feeling scared and nervous for what could happen on Jan. 6."

Giuliani and Meadows request pardons: Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows sought pardons after Jan. 6 attack, testimony reveals

Cassidy Hutchinson, aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies before the House Select Committee  investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, June 28, 2022, at the Capitol in Washington.
Cassidy Hutchinson, aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies before the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, June 28, 2022, at the Capitol in Washington.

She also recounted how multiple White House officials expressed fears that the Jan. 6, 2021, election protests could get violent because of extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers - and that Trump had to know as well.

In previously recorded testimony, Hutchison talked about how National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien wanted to meet with Meadows about the potential for violence.

She also testified that White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Tony Ornato had received intelligence reports saying there was potential for violence on Jan. 6.

Magnetometer: What are 'mags,' and why did ex-Meadows aide bring them up at the Jan. 6 hearings?

'Take the f'ing mags away'

The forecasts for violence continued the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, when police warned there were armed individuals within walking distance of the ellipse where Trump would be speaking.

They were armed with AR-15-style rifles, Glock-style pistols and spears fastened to the ends of flagpoles. Some of the individuals hid in trees.

In the backstage area of the former president's rally, Hutchinson said she overheard Trump tell staff that he didn’t care whether people had weapons and he wanted to let them into the rally.

"They're not here to hurt me," the president said, according to Hutchinson.

Trump was also angry about his crowd size – something he had publicly and privately obsessed over since his candidacy began in 2015, according to numerous reports. He wanted his team to remove the magnetrometers, or metal detectors, that were set up to keep weapons out of the president's rally.

“Let the people in, take the f–ing mags away,” Trump said on Jan. 6, according to Hutchinson.

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.

'Every crime imaginable'

Trump's legal team knew the president's language could incite violence and were concerned he could be charged with crimes, according to Hutchinson's testimony.

Hutchinson told the committee that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and other lawyers stressed to Trump and aides that marching to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, could expose him to a number of criminal charges – including inciting a riot.

It would look like "we were inciting a riot or were encouraging a riot," Hutchinson recalled the White House counsel saying.

Cipollone especially wanted to make sure Trump didn't go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. "We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen," he said, according to Hutchinson.

“We need to make sure that this doesn’t happen,” Hutchinson quoted Cipollone as telling her Jan. 3, 2021. “This would be legally a terrible idea for us. We have serious legal concerns if we go up to the Capitol that day.”

An unhinged president

Trump, growing more out of control in his final days, shattered dishes in the Oval Office and lunged at his own Secret Service agent to try and force them to take him to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Sitting in the back of his car in the motorcade, Trump reached forward and tried to grab the steering wheel in order to move the vehicle in the direction of the Capitol, even though aides said he had to go back to the White House. He later lunged at his security chief in an apparent attempt to choke him.

Hutchinson said she heard this story in the White House from Ornato. She said Trump’s security chief Robert Engel, who had been in the car with Trump, was in the room with them. At no point did Engel correct the story, Hutchinson said.

“Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your arm off the steering wheel,’” Hutchinson testified. “’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 and when Mr. Ornato recounted this story for me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.”

'He doesn't want to do anything'

Meadows told Cipollone on Jan. 6, 2021, that Trump didn’t want to do anything to stop the violence that was taking place at the Capitol, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.

Cipollone came “barrelling toward our office,” Hutchinson said, before opening the door, shaking his head, and telling Meadows that the rioters had made it to the Capitol. He urged Meadows to come with him to go speak to Trump.

“He doesn’t want to do anything, Pat,” Hutchinson said Meadows said, and Hutchinson says Cipollone responded, “Mark, something needs to be done. People are going to die and the blood is going to be on your f---ing hands. This is out of control. I’m going down there.”

Hutchinson said she overheard Trump, Meadows and Trump lawyers in the White House discuss the chants of “Hang Mike Pence” as rioters attacked the Capitol on Jan.6.

She recalled Cipollone telling Meadows, “We need to do something.”

“You heard it, Pat,” Meadows said, according to Hutchinson. “He thinks Mike deserves that. He doesn't think they're doing anything wrong. To which Pat said something to the effect of, 'This is f---ing crazy.'"

David Jackson, Erin Mansfield, Bart Jansen and Joey Garrison contributed to this report.

Candy Woodall is a Congress reporter for USA TODAY. She can be reached at cwoodall@usatoday.com or on Twitter at @candynotcandace.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cassidy Hutchinson testimony reveals Trump knew danger of armed mob

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