Ex-White House aide shares ‘firsthand’ Jan 6 stories – a timeline

Cassidy Hutchinson tells panel Trump tried to go to Capitol on Jan 6 and did not care that rioters were armed.

Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in to testify during the sixth hearing on the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, June 28 [Andrew Harnik/Reuters pool]

In the sixth public hearing on the January 6 Capitol riot, Cassidy Hutchinson, a surprise witness and former White House aide to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified that Trump repeatedly pressed to be allowed to go to the Capitol on January 6.

Her position gave her access to the president and his closest aides in the days leading up to and during the Capitol riot.

Before his speech, when told some of his supporters were armed, Trump said “I don’t even care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me,” Hutchinson recounted. She said Trump instructed staff to let them all into his rally anyway and they could “march the Capitol” from there.

Trump became “irate” when he was told he would not be able to go to the Capitol with the crowd and tried to grab the steering wheel in his vehicle, Hutchinson relayed – information she got from the deputy chief of staff.

Meadows said Trump believed Vice President Mike Pence deserved to be targeted by the rioters, Hutchinson testified.

When Trump tweeted during the riot that Pence did not have the “courage to do what needs to be done”, Hutchinson said she felt “frustrated, disappointed”.

“As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic, it was unAmerican. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie.”

Trump for hours refused calls from some staff and family to tell rioters to stand down, though not all in the White House agreed on a strategy forward.

Here are some of the highlights from the hearing:

  • Hutchinson was in the West Wing for the days leading up to and during the riot, and offered firsthand testimony of what she saw and heard.
  • Trump knew some of his supporters were armed on January 6 but was not concerned, Hutchinson said.
  • Trump tried to grab the steering wheel when he learned his staff were not taking him to the Capitol on January 6, Hutchinson learned from the White House deputy chief of staff who was in the car.
  • Trump was resistant to pleas from his staff to do more to call off the riot,  telling them hours after they began storming the Capitol to go home and “we love you”.
  • Previous hearings have focused on Donald Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election, including pressure campaigns against the Department of Justice, state officials and his own vice president, Mike Pence.

Below is a timeline of the hearing as it unfolded:

Panel seems to suggest that Trump allies may have pressured witnesses

The January 6 panel alluded to the possibility that some of those who have testified before the committee had been put under pressure before testifying.

Liz Cheney said that members of the panel “commonly ask witnesses connected to Trump whether they have been contacted by anyone attempting to impact testimony”. She then shared answers they had received from witnesses  – without identifying anyone.

One includes a message telling a witness, “He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”

Another states that a witness was reminded that Trump reads through transcripts of the hearings and that this person was told to “keep that in mind as I proceeded through my deposition”.

Hutchinson: both Meadows and Giuliani sought pardons

Meadows, her former boss, and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, both asked Trump for pardons, Hutchinson testified.

After confirming Giuliani had made the request, she said, “Mr Meadows did seek that pardon, yes ma’am,” answering a question by deputy panel chair Liz Cheney.

Trump seeks to discredit testimony from Hutchinson

Trump took to the social media platform Truth Social on Tuesday to decry the testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, portraying her as a disgruntled former employee and calling the proceedings a “kangaroo court”.

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

Other Republican officeholders downplayed the hearings as well. On Twitter, Representative Elise Stefanik called the hearings an “illegitimate witch-hunt” and her colleague Jim Jordan called them a “sham”.

Cabinet members discussed invoking 25th Amendment to remove Trump: witness, panel

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reached out to Meadows after January 6 to alert him that cabinet secretaries were discussing invoking the 25th Amendment to strip Trump of his presidential powers, Hutchinson has said.

The constitutional provision allows for a transition of power if the president is unable or unfit to serve.

Cheney also said that the committee “has learned” that the 25th Amendment was floated by cabinet secretaries after the January 6 attack.

A video of former President Trump is played at the sixth hearing on the January 6 attack on June 28. The committee learned that members of the president’s staff considered invoking the 25th amendment, which would have removed him from office on the grounds that he was ‘unfit’ [J Scott Applewhite/AP Photo]

Former General Mike Flynn takes the Fifth

The panel played a video of a portion of Flynn’s taped testimony. When asked over video by Liz Cheney: Do you believe the violence is justified normally? There is a pause of about a minute and a half as Flynn consults with his counsel.

When he comes back, he asks if the question is a moral one or a legal one – Cheney says “both”.

To both of those answers, he pleaded the Fifth Amendment – a constitutional protecton against self-incrimination.

Asked, “General, do you believe in a peaceful transition of power in the United States of America? ” Flynn also invoked the Fifth.

Confidantes urged Trump to ask supporters to leave Capitol, panel says

Trump children and confidantes had urged him to tell his supporters to leave the Capitol, the panel has said, showing text messages and testimonies to that effect.

Hutchinson said she remembers Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter and adviser, saying at various points that “she wanted her dad to send them home.”

The committee showed text exchanges between Donald Trump Jr and Meadows, where Trump’s son calls on the then-president to condemn the attack as soon as possible.

Conservative show host Laura Ingraham also texted Meadows, according to the committee, warning that Trump is “destroying his legacy and playing into every stereotype” by failing to call for an end to the riots at the Capitol.

Trump eventually told his supporters to go home “in peace” telling them “we love you” early in the evening on January 6, hours after these calls.

At the White House, differing opinions on what to do during January 6 riot, Hutchinson said White

House staff and aides fell into three different camps on how to handle the continuing rioting at the US Capitol on January 6.

One “group of individuals are strongly urging him to take immediate and swift action,” Hutchinson told the panel.

Other advisers were to be more neutral – trying to “toe the line “knowing that Trump did not necessarily want to take immediate action and condemn riots.

The third group fell into the “deflecting blame category” Hutchinson said, trying to blame the riot on different groups, like antifa.

Trump ‘doesn’t want to do anything’ about riots, Meadows said: Witness

Hutchinson recalled that White House counsel Cipollone approached Meadows in his office as the rioters came close to the Capitol, but the then-White House chief of staff appeared to dismiss the urgency of the situation.

“I remember Pat saying to him something to the effect of ‘the rioters have gotten to the Capitol, Mark; we need to go down and see the president now’. And Mark looked up at him and said: ‘He [Trump] doesn’t want to do anything’,” Hutchinson said.

She added that Cipollone told Meadows: “Something needs to be done or people are going to die, and the blood is going to be on your effing hands.”

Jan 6
Members of the media wait for the arrival of Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide who testified before the January 6 panel on June 28 that Trump knew his supporters were armed on the day of the Capitol riot [Shawn Thew/Reuters pool]

Trump wanted to march to the Capitol: McEnany

Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump still wanted to go to the Capitol even after he was brought back to the White House after his January 6 speech.

“I believe when we got back to the White House, he said he [Trump] wanted to physically walk with the marchers,” McEnany told the panel in taped testimony.

He then said he would be fine with going in “the beast” – the presidential vehicle, McEnany said.

Trump threw food against wall after Barr said there was no fraud: Witness

Early in December 2020, Trump threw his lunch against the wall after he learned that then-Attorney General William Barr had told The Associated Press news agency that there was no evidence of election fraud, Hutchinson has told the committee.

“The [White House] 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 them to have to clean up,” Hutchinson said.

“So I grabbed a towel and started wiping the ketchup off the wall. I helped the valet out. He said something to the effect of, ‘He [Trump] is really ticked off about this.'”

Trump was ‘irate’ when he learned he cannot go to Capitol on January 6

Hutchinson has described a “very angry” Trump who got physical with White House staff when he learned that he could not go to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse on January 6, 2021.

“I am the effing president. Take me to the Capitol now,” Trump told aides in the presidential vehicle, according to Hutchinson, who relayed the information from then-White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato who was in the car.

Hutchinson cited Ornato as saying that Trump was “irate”.

She said Trump tried to grab the steering wheel, but Secret Service official Bobby Engel stopped him.

“Mr Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson said. “When Mr Ornato had recounted this story to me, he motioned towards his clavicles.”

Trump planned to go to the Capitol on January 6

The committee played testimonies from Trump aides confirming that the then-president wanted to go to the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

The panel also featured a written chat between National Security Council staff members discussing the president’s possible route to the Capitol building.

Hutchinson told the committee that White House counsel Pat Cipollone warned of severe legal repercussions if Trump were to go the Capitol.

Trump could have stopped Capitol attack but had other plans: Cheney

Cheney has stressed that much of the information about the planned attack on the Capitol was known before the riots – “early enough for President Trump to take steps to prevent it”.

She said, for example, Trump could have urged the crowd at the Ellipse by the White House where his supporters had rallied not to march to the Capitol.

“He could have condemned the violence immediately once it began or he could have taken multiple other steps,” Cheney said. “But as we will see today and in later hearings, President Trump had something else in mind.”

Meadows was indifferent about violence at Capitol: Hutchinson

Hutchinson has told the committee that Meadows, the then-White House chief of staff, appeared indifferent when she informed him of the beginning of the attack on the US Capitol.

“He almost had a lack of reaction,” she said. “I remember him saying something to the effect of ‘How much longer [does] the president have left in this speech?'”

President Trump was ‘furious’: Hutchinson

On January 6 before his speech, Trump was angry that the space in front of the Ellipse was not full and wanted the magnetic weapons detectors (mags) removed so more people could get into the area.

The then-president was told that some in the crowd had weapons.

“I don’t even care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me,” Trump said and asked the security should “take the f-ing mags away,” Hutchinson told the panel.
Trump called the crowd “my people” and said they could “march the Capitol” from the Ellipse.

Cassidy Hutchinson, a former Trump aide, is sworn in during the sixth hearing on the January 6 attack, June 28 [Shawn Thew/Reuters pool]

Hutchinson says Giuliani’s message made her nervous

She related to her boss, Meadows, that Giuliani had told her January 6 would be important – and Trump would be involved – days before the events happened.

Hutchinson said: “That evening was the first moment that I remember feeling scared and nervous for what could happen on January 6, and a deeper concern for what was happening with the planning aspects of it.”

‘We’re going to the Capitol,’ Hutchinson recalls Giuliani saying

Hutchinson has recalled that Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, told her days before the riots that there was something planned at the Capitol for January 6, 2021.

When she asked for details, Hutchinson said Giuliani “responded to the effect of ‘we’re going to the Capitol; it’s going to be great'”.

“The president is going to be there. He’s going to look powerful,” she said Giuliani told her.
Hutchinson said Giuliani added that Meadows, the chief of staff, “knows about it”.

When she asked Meadows about what Giuliani had told her, the chief staff said that “things might get real, real bad on January 6”, Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson will reveal ‘firsthand observations’, Cheney says

Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the panel, has said that Hutchinson will relay “firsthand observations of President Trump’s conduct” on January 6, 2021.

Cheney stressed Hutchinson’s proximity to the centre of power at the White House during that time.

“In short, Ms Hutchinson was in a position to know a great deal about the happenings in the Trump White House,” she said.

Hutchinson was ‘steps from the Oval Office” on January 6

Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony will include “what was going on in the White House on January, 6, and in the days prior”, panel chair Bennie Thompson said.

She had access to “specific detailed information about what the former president and his top aides were doing. and saying, in those critical hours … as the threats of violence became clear. And indeed, violence, ultimately descended on the Capitol in the attack on American democracy.”

Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies before the January 6 committee, June 28 [Andrew Harnik/AP Photo pool]

‘New information’ sparked surprise hearing: Thompson

Thompson has said that the panel announced the previously unscheduled hearing after obtaining “new information” about what happened at the White House on January 6, 2021.

“It’s important that the American people hear that information immediately,” Thompson said.

Cassidy Hutchinson will testify, panel confirms

Hutchinson, an ex-assistant to Trump’s final White House Chief of Staff Meadows, will testify at the hearing, Thompson has confirmed.

At the last hearing, Hutchinson, 25, discussed some Republican lawmakers’ efforts to seek pardons from the Trump White House in clips from a recorded testimony.

Hearing starts

Panel chair Bennie Thompson has gavelled in the hearing, which was unexpectedly announced on Monday.

The sixth public session of the panel is under way.

Ex-Trump White House aide set to feature as star witness

While the committee has not publicly previewed the hearing, multiple US media outlets have cited unidentified sources saying that the star witness at Tuesday’s session will be Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Hutchinson had appeared at last week’s hearing when snippets of her recorded interview with the panel were played.

Hutchinson testified that Republican Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Mo Brooks had “advocated for there to be a blanket pardon” for January 6.

“Mr Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon and he was doing so since early December. I’m not sure why,” Hutchinson told the panel. “Mr Gaetz had reached out to me to ask if he could have a meeting with Mr Meadows about receiving a presidential pardon.”

Cassidy Hutchinson
Cassidy Hutchinson is shown on a screen during a hearing on Capitol Hill on June 23, 2022 [Demetrius Freeman/Pool via Reuters]

Surprise hearing to feature ‘recently obtained evidence’

The congressional committee investigating the Capitol attack was set to pause its public hearings until next month before abruptly announcing Tuesday’s hearing.

The committee said it will “present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony” in the previously unscheduled hearing.

FBI seizes former Trump election lawyer’s phone

FBI agents have seized the phone of Trump’s former election attorney, who the panel says played a key role in the ex-president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 vote.

Attorney John Eastman’s lawyers confirmed the seizure of the phone in a lawsuit filed in federal court this week. Eastman is referred to as “movant” because he has a motion before the court.

“On the evening of June 22, 2022, federal agents served a search on movant while movant was exiting a restaurant,” the filing says. “Movant’s phone — an iPhone Pro 12 — was seized.”

A committee hearing earlier this month examined Eastman’s efforts to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify incoming President Joe Biden’s election victory based on false fraud claims.

John Eastman
John Eastman speaks next to Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at a rally protesting the 2020 election results in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021 [File: Jim Bourg Reuters]

Key takeaways from last hearing

In the last hearing, US legislators investigating the deadly riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, turned their attention to Trump’s pressure campaign on the Department of Justice to overturn the 2020 election.

The House committee held its fifth public hearing this month on June 23, once again laying out what it knows about Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the US presidential election he lost to Biden.

Read the key takeaways from that hearing here.

Welcome to Al Jazeera’s live coverage of a United States congressional committee’s public hearing on its inquiry into the January 6, 2021, US Capitol riot.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies