Then-President Donald Trump knew that some of his supporters at his Jan. 6 rally were heavily armed, and told them to march on the Capitol anyway, a top former White House aide testified on Tuesday.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a senior aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, told the House Jan. 6 Select Committee that on the morning of Jan. 6, Trump grew increasingly agitated because the space for the rally he was set to deliver had yet to fill up with attendees.
Trump was told that part of the reason was that some of his supporters were heavily armed and didn’t want to go through a security screening to enter the area.
“I don’t effing care that they have weapons,” Hutchinson testified that Trump said. “They’re not there to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in, and take the effing mags away.”
Hutchinson also testified that Trump continually pressed to join his supporters in marching to the Capitol, something his lawyers firmly advised against.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was fiercely against the idea, Hutchinson said, and warned that “we’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.”
But Trump continued demanding to march to the Capitol for days—right up to the moment he was driven back to the White House, as his supporters began their attack on the Capitol. Secret Service logs shown in the hearing confirm that Trump was still pushing to march on Congress up until 1 p.m. on the day of the riot, around the time his supporters first began attacking Capitol police.
It wasn’t clear what Trump wanted to do when he got to the Capitol. Hutchinson recalled Meadows, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry, a top Trump ally, tossing around several ideas.
There were discussions about Trump giving a second speech outside the Capitol before going into the Capitol Building, or even entering into the House chambers, Hutchinson said.
Former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany testified that Trump wanted to march alongside the mob from the Ellipse to the Capitol.
Hutchinson said Secret Service head Tony Ornato and another agent told her that once inside the presidential limousine, known as “The Beast,” Trump told them something to the effect of, “I’m the effing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,” and tried to grab at the steering wheel when they told him they were returning to the West Wing.
Ornato, who described the president as “irate,” told Trump, “Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel, we’re going back to the West Wing, we are not going to the Capitol.”
Trump then lunged toward a Secret Service agent’s neck, Hutchinson testified, recalling conversations she had with agents who were in the car at the time.
Hutchinson said that after Trump told his supporters to march on the Capitol—an order he repeated three times during his speech that day—she got a furious call from House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
“You told me this whole week you weren’t coming up here. Why did you lie to me?” she said McCarthy told her. “Don’t come up here.”
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