WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the Capitol convened a surprise hearing Tuesday featuring a star witness.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to House minority whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified that senior White House aides including Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani were aware of the advanced planning for the insurrection prior to the January 6th attack.
“I recall hearing the word ‘Oath Keeper’ and hearing the word ‘Proud Boy’ closer to the planning at the January 6 rally when Mr. Giuliani was around,” said Hutchinson.
The Secret Service had warned the White House that weapons were present among the crowd attending Donald Trump’s speech at the Ellipse on January 6, per Hutchinson’s testimony.
The January 6th committee played police radio chatter about gunmen with automatic weapons in the trees on the National Mall before the crowd mobilized to march on the Capitol.
Wow. Hutchinson testifies that Trump knew people couldn’t get into his official rally space because they were armed and couldn’t get through security.
“Who cares if they have weapons, they’re not here to hurt me” he said
— Liz Elkind (@liz_elkind) June 28, 2022
President Trump encouraged his followers to march to the Capitol from the stage at the Ellipse, prompting a backend of communications that the January 6th committee went to great lengths to unveil during Tuesday’s hearing.
The Secret Service immediately went to work finding a walking route for Trump to take to the Capitol. Meanwhile, White House attorney Pat Cipollone scrambled to convince senior aides that walking to the Capitol was a bad idea.
“We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we were to go up to the Capitol. We can’t do something like that,” Cipollone said according to Hutchinson.
A dramatic moment in Hutchinson’s testimony came when she describes Trump’s many temper tantrums on January 6th. At one point, Hutchinson testified that when the Secret Service declined to transport Trump to the Capitol, the president tried to strangle the driver of his presidential limousine.
Upon being forcibly taken back to the West Wing by the Secret Service, Hutchinson testified that Trump threw another tantrum, smashing dishes and leaving ketchup smeared on the wall.
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON testifies that Pat Cipollone said to Meadows: "Mark, something needs to be done, or people are going to die and the blood's gonna be on your F'ing hands. This is getting out of control."
— Lauren Peikoff (@laurenpeikoff) June 28, 2022
“As an American, I was disgusted… watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie,” said Hutchinson. “It’s something I still struggle to work through… the emotions of that.”
Trump’s family members and even Fox News host Laura Ingraham texted White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, imploring him to tell Trump to tell the rioters to cease.
“She wanted her dad to send them home,” Hutchinson said of Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
No public witness before the January 6th committee had as much insider access to President Trump on January 6 as Hutchinson, who some Trump allies quickly moved to discredit.
Still, reporters and other former Trump aides were quick to point out that Meadows and Hutchinson were inseparable during his time in the House and later, as White House aides to President Trump, who took to his social media platform to push a counter-narrative.
Former Trump aide Sarah Matthews took to Twitter, a platform that banned Trump after the January 6th attack, to defend Hutchinson.
Anyone downplaying Cassidy Hutchinson’s role or her access in the West Wing either doesn’t understand how the Trump WH worked or is attempting to discredit her because they’re scared of how damning this testimony is.
— Sarah Matthews (@SarahAMatthews1) June 28, 2022
At the conclusion of the hearing, committee chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and committee member Liz Cheney (R-WY) pointed out that there had been attempts to intimidate or coerce Hutchinson prior to her deposition.
Chairman Thompson then spoke directly to the witnesses —Meadows, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and others— who had resisted testifying to the committee, so far.
“Our doors remain open,” Thompson said.
Pablo Manríquez is the Washington correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports