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Newsdeck

Trump's rage explained at hearing

Trump’s Jan. 6 Rage Gets Vivid Retelling in Ex-Aide’s Star Turn

epa10039650 Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, describes the actions of former US president Donald Trump during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, 28 June 2022. EPA-EFE/MANDEL NGAN / POOL
By Bloomberg
29 Jun 2022 0

(Bloomberg) -- A former White House aide offered a vivid portrait of a violent and out-of-control Donald Trump in his presidency’s final weeks, grabbing for the steering wheel and lunging at a Secret Service agent when he wasn’t permitted to travel to the Capitol to join the insurrectionist mob on Jan. 6, 2021

By Mike Dorning, Steven T. Dennis and Billy House

Word Count: 719
Cassidy Hutchinson, then an assistant to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, gave the most gripping testimony yet in a House committee’s hearings on Capitol riot, providing a front-row seat into the workings of Trump’s inner circle during the attack and days beforehand.“We were watching the Capitol building getting defaced over a lie,” Hutchinson said, describing her feelings after learning Trump wouldn’t intervene early to try and stop the 2021 attack.

Her testimony came during a hearing Tuesday in which the committee tried to shield her identity until the session began. Her name leaked early Tuesday.

Hutchinson described a president who smashed lunch dishes against the wall when his attorney general wouldn’t back election-fraud claims, ignored requests from his own lawyers to tone down his speech at the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the riot, and ultimately turned callous when his vice president was under threat, suggesting he agreed with the rioters’ cries to hang Mike Pence.

She also described Trump’s rage sitting in his armored vehicle when the Secret Service determined it would be too dangerous for him to go to the Capitol from his rally with supporters.

“I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Trump exploded in response, she said, adding that he tried to grab the steering wheel. Robert Engel, the head of the security detail, grabbed the president’s arm to stop him and said, “Sir, you have to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing,” she recounted. Trump lunged forward as if to grab him by the neck, she said she was told.

Hutchinson delivered a second-hand account told to her by a deputy White House chief of staff, Tony Ornato. Engel was with them “looking discombobulated” in the aftermath, she said.

Hutchinson said White House Counsel Pat Cipollone urged Trump not to join the crowd or go to the House chamber where the Electoral College votes were being counted.

“We’re going to be charged with every crime imaginable” if Trump accompanied rally goers to the Capitol, she said Cipollone told her, citing the crimes of obstructing justice and defrauding the Electoral Count Act.

When he arrived at the rally on the Ellipse, Trump was angry that many of the protesters had stayed outside the security perimeter, leaving a smaller crowd in view of television cameras. Police were sending reports that many of the protesters were stopped at the perimeter because they were carrying weapons, Hutchinson said.

Trump was told many of the protesters were holding back to avoid weapons searches. He responded that security guards should let the armed supporters in without passing through the magnetometers because he firmly believed the protesters wouldn’t use them against him.

“They aren’t here to hurt me,” she recalled hearing Trump say. “Let them march to the Capitol from here,” he said.

As her testimony continued in the two-hour hearing, Trump took to a loyal social media platform to deny her account.

“Her Fake story that I tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House Limousine in order to steer it to the Capitol Building is ‘sick’ and fraudulent,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “Wouldn’t even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing.”

He also said he didn’t “request that we make room for people with guns to watch my speech.”

Hutchinson said Meadows and Cipollone emerged from a meeting with Trump in which they had discussed the crowd inside the Capitol’s chants to hang Mike Pence.

“You’ve heard it, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong,” Hutchinson recalls Meadows saying.

–With assistance from Chris Strohm.

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