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Aide: Trump Dismissed Jan. 6 Threats   06/29 06:27


   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Donald Trump rebuffed his own security's warnings about 
armed protesters in the Jan. 6 rally crowd and made desperate attempts to join 
his supporters as they marched to the Capitol, according to dramatic new 
testimony before the House committee investigating the 2021 insurrection.

   Cassidy Hutchinson, a little-known former White House aide, described an 
angry, defiant president who was trying that day to let armed protesters avoid 
security screenings at a rally that morning to protest his 2020 election defeat 
and who later grabbed at the steering wheel of the presidential SUV when the 
Secret Service refused to let him go to the Capitol.

   And when the events at the Capitol spiraled toward violence, with the crowd 
chanting to "Hang Mike Pence," she testified Tuesday that Trump declined to 

   Trump "doesn't think they're doing anything wrong," Hutchinson recalled 
hearing from her boss, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

   Hutchinson's explosive, moment-by-moment account of what was happening 
inside and outside the White House offered a vivid description of a Republican 
president so unwilling to concede his 2020 election defeat to Democrat Joe 
Biden that he acted out in rage and refused to stop the siege at the Capitol. 
It painted a damning portrait of the chaos at the White House as those around 
the defeated president splintered into one faction supporting his false claims 
of voter fraud and another trying unsuccessfully to put an end to the violent 

   Her testimony, at a surprise hearing announced just 24 hours earlier, was 
the sole focus at the hearing, the sixth by the committee this month. The 
account was particularly powerful because of her proximity to power, with 
Hutchinson describing what she witnessed first-hand and was told by others in 
the White House.

   Hutchinson said that she was told Trump fought a security official for 
control of the presidential SUV on Jan. 6 and demanded to be taken the Capitol 
as the insurrection began, despite being warned earlier that day that some of 
his supporters were armed.

   The former aide said that she was told of the altercation in the SUV 
immediately afterward by a White House security official, and that Bobby Engel, 
the head of the detail, was in the room and didn't dispute the account at the 
time. Engel had grabbed Trump's arm to prevent him from gaining control of the 
armored vehicle, she was told, and Trump then used his free hand to lunge at 

   That account was quickly disputed on Tuesday, however. Engel, the agent who 
was driving the presidential SUV, and Trump security official Tony Ornato are 
willing to testify under oath that no agent was assaulted and Trump never 
lunged for the steering wheel, a person familiar with the matter said. The 
person would not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press 
on condition of anonymity.

   As the events of Jan. 6 unfurled, Hutchinson, then a special assistant to 
Meadows, described chaos in White House offices and hallways. Trump's staff -- 
several of whom had been warned of violence beforehand -- became increasingly 
alarmed as rioters at the Capitol overran police and interrupted the 
certification of Biden's victory.

   Trump was less concerned, she said, even as he heard there were cries in the 
crowd to "Hang Mike Pence!" Hutchinson recalled that Meadows told aides that 
Trump "thinks Mike deserves it." The president tweeted during the attack that 
Pence didn't have the courage to object to Biden's win as he presided over the 
joint session of Congress.

   The young ex-aide was matter-of-fact in most of her answers. But she did say 
that she was "disgusted" at Trump's tweet about Pence during the siege.

   "It was unpatriotic, it was un-American, and you were watching the Capitol 
building get defaced over a lie," Hutchinson said, adding that, "I still 
struggle to work through the emotions of that."

   Trump denied much of what Hutchinson said on his social media platform, 
Truth Social. He called her a "total phony" and "bad news."

   Members of the panel praised Hutchinson's bravery for testifying and said 
that other witnesses had been intimidated and did not cooperate.

   "I want all Americans to know that what Ms. Hutchinson has done today is not 
easy," said Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican who led questioning.

   Some of Hutchinson's former colleagues, too, dcfended her account. Mick 
Mulvaney, who preceded Meadows as Trump's chief of staff, tweeted that he knows 
Hutchinson and "I don't think she is lying." Sarah Matthews, a former Trump 
press aide who has also cooperated with the committee, called the testimony 

   As she described the scene in the White House after the election, Hutchinson 
depicted a president flailing in anger and prone to violent outbursts. Some 
aides sought to rein in his impulses. Some did not.

   At one point on Jan. 6, Hutchinson said, White House counsel Pat Cipollone 
barreled down the hallway and confronted Meadows about rioters breaching the 
Capitol. Meadows, staring at his phone, told the White House lawyer that Trump 
didn't want to do anything, she said.

   Earlier, Cipollone had worried out loud that "we're going to get charged 
with every crime imaginable" if Trump went to the Capitol after his speech at 
the rally, Hutchinson recalled.

   Before the crowd left for the Capitol, Hutchinson said she also received an 
angry call from House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who had just heard the 
president say he was coming. "Don't come up here," McCarthy told her, before 
hanging up.

   Hutchinson told the panel that Trump had been informed early in the day that 
some of the protesters outside the White House had weapons. But he responded 
that the protesters were "not here to hurt me," Hutchinson said.

   She quoted Trump as directing his staff, in profane terms, to take away the 
metal-detecting magnetometers that he thought would slow down supporters who 
were gathering for his speech on the Ellipse, in back of the White House. In a 
clip of an earlier interview with the committee, she recalled the president 
saying words to the effect of: "I don't f-in' care that they have weapons."

   As a White House insider, Hutchinson told stories of a raging president who 
was unable to acknowledge his defeat. At the beginning of December, she said, 
she heard noise inside the White House around the time an Associated Press 
article was published in which Attorney General William Barr said the Justice 
Department had not found evidence of voter fraud that could have changed the 
election's outcome.

   She said she entered a room to find ketchup dripping down a wall and broken 
porcelain. The president, it turned out, had thrown his lunch at the wall in 
disgust over the article. Trump denied it in his social media posts.

   In the days before the attack, Hutchinson said she was "scared, and nervous 
for what could happen" on Jan. 6 after having conversations with Trump lawyer 
Rudy Giuliani, Meadows and others.

   Meadows told Hutchinson that "things might get real, real bad," she said. 
Giuliani told her it was going to be "a great day" and "we're going to the 

   Eventually, both men would seek pardons related to what happened that day, 
Hutchinson said. A person familiar with the matter denied that Meadows had ever 
sought a pardon. The person spoke on condition of anonymity.

   Hutchinson had already provided a trove of information to congressional 
investigators, sitting for four interviews with the panel behind closed doors. 
She detailed meetings in the runup to the insurrection where challenges to the 
election were debated and discussed at the White House, including with several 
Republican lawmakers.

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