House Democrats ginned up another round of blockbuster anticipation Monday night when the Select Committee on Jan. 6 announced a last-minute hearing with a surprise witness.
On Tuesday, the nine-member panel brought forward a key aide to former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Cassidy Hutchinson, who supposedly possessed intimate knowledge of the administration’s conduct on Jan. 6. The topic of the afternoon hearing remained under seal until Hutchinson took the stand to offer new bombshell evidence allegedly incriminating the former Republican president.
“Up until now, our hearings have each been organized to address specific elements of President Trump’s plan to overturn the 2020 election,” Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said at the onset of the panel’s latest show trial. “Today we are departing somewhat from that model because Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony touches on several important and cross-cutting topics, topics that are relevant to each of our future hearings.”
According to Cheney, Hutchinson “handled a vast number of sensitive issues” working “steps down the hall from the Oval Office” and “worked on a daily basis with members of the Secret Service who were posted in the White House.”
“In short, Ms. Hutchinson was in a position to know a great deal about the happenings in the Trump White House,” Cheney said.
The ensuing testimony was “devastating,” according to National Review’s resident Cheney-cheerleader Andrew McCarthy in a post published even after the committee’s new narrative fell apart.
In her more than two-hours of uncorroborated commentary, just about all of which was based on hearsay, Hutchinson depicted an image of an unhinged president who was not only complicit in his supporters ransacking the Capitol but was eager to attend the spectacle.
“I don’t know what he personally wanted to do when he went up to the Capitol that day,” she said in a portion of a taped interview played at the hearing. “I know that there were discussions about him having another speech outside of the Capitol before going in. I know that there was a conversation about him going into the House chamber at one point.”
Testifying in public, Hutchinson went further, explaining to lawmakers in the clip below that Trump threw a violent tantrum when the Secret Service refused to allow the president go to the Capitol as supporters swarmed the complex.
“The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the f’ing president, take me up to the Capitol now,'” Hutchinson said, citing a conversation with then-White House Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornato, who apparently described a scene in the Beast between Trump and Secret Service Special Agent Bobby Engel. “The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel, 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,” Hutchinson continued. “And Mr. — when Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.”
Moments after the Hutchinson’s testimony, NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Peter Alexander reported “a source close to the Secret Service tells me both Bobby Engel, the lead agent, and the presidential limousine/SUV driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Mr. Trump never lunged for the steering wheel.”
CBS News followed up with “confirmation” of the agency’s categorical denial, likely from the same sources.
Hours later, another pillar of Hutchinson’s testimony fell apart when a spokesman for Former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann told ABC News a handwritten note for which Hutchinson claimed authorship was actually written by Herschmann.
The note, displayed by Cheney as an exhibit, included a statement for the president to read as the riot unfolded on Capitol Hill.
“The handwritten note that Cassidy Hutchinson testified was written by her was in fact written by Eric Herschmann on January 6, 2021,” a spokesperson for Herschmann told ABC News Tuesday night. “All sources with direct knowledge and law enforcement have and will confirm that it was written by Mr. Herschmann.”