Hutchinson says Trump knew crowd had weapons but did not care

  • Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, is the surprise witness.
  • The committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol abruptly announced Tuesday’s surprise hearing less than 24 hours before its scheduled starting time.
  • Tuesday’s session will “present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony”, the House of Representatives committee says.
  • Previous hearings have focused on Donald Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election, including pressure campaigns against the Justice Department, state officials and his own vice president, Mike Pence.

Here are the latest updates:

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 cannot go to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse on January 6, 2021.

“I am the f***ing president. Take me to the Capitol now,” Trump told aides in the presidential vehicle, according to Hutchinson, who relied 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.
“And [when] Mr Renato 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 Cippollone 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 underway.

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.

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