Then-President Donald Trump was so irate that his Secret Service detail wouldn’t take him to the Capitol on Jan. 6 that he allegedly tried to grab the wheel of the armored SUV, then attacked one of the agents, according to testimony from a former top White House aide.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told the House Jan. 6 Select Committee Tuesday that two Secret Service agents who were with Trump that day told her that Trump was enraged when they wouldn’t let him go to the U.S. Capitol after his speech that day.
Hutchinson said Secret Service head Tony Ornato and another agent told her that Trump grew “irate” when he was told by Secret Service agents after he entered the presidential limousine known as “The Beast” that he wouldn’t be allowed to go to the Capitol with his supporters, who were marching there on his orders.
“The president said something to the effect of ‘I’m the effing president. Take me up to the Capitol—now,’” Hutchinson said she was told by the two Secret Service agents.
She said Secret Service Agent Bobby Engel, who was driving the limo, said “Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing.”
“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 back to the Capitol.’ Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson said, elaborating that Ornato “motioned towards his clavicles” to indicate Trump reached near his neck.
Secret Service logs shown during the committee hearing backed up Hutchinson’s claims that Trump was still pushing to go to the Capitol between 12:30 p.m. and 1:20 p.m. on Jan. 6—when his supporters were already battling Capitol police in an ultimately successful attempt to overrun the building.
Trump’s freak-out came after a week of insisting he should be allowed to march to the Capitol with his supporters. While many of his more responsible aides vehemently opposed that idea, some allies were all for it.
Hutchinson testified that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told her days before the Capitol attack that the plan was to send Trump to the Capitol building.
“We’re going to the Capitol. It’s going to be great. The president’s going to be there. He’s going to look powerful,” Giuliani said, according to Hutchinson.
There didn’t seem to be concrete plans about what he’d do once he got there—but there were discussions about Trump giving a second speech outside the Capitol before going into the Capitol, or even entering into the House chambers, Hutchinson said.
That wasn’t Trump’s only tantrum in the weeks after he lost the election.
Hutchinson recalled a similar outburst a month prior. When the Associated Press published an exclusive interview with then-Attorney General Bill Barr, in which he asserted that there had been no fraud in the 2020 election, Trump literally hit the wall—with his lunch.
Hutchinson testified that one day in mid-December she entered a room Trump had just exited, and saw the aftermath of a tantrum.
“There was ketchup dripping down the wall and there was a shattered porcelain plate on the floor. The valet had articulated that the president was extremely angry at the attorney general’s AP interview and had thrown his lunch against the wall.”
Hutchinson testified this behavior wasn’t particularly out of character for the president: At several points during her tenure at the White House, she said, she witnessed Trump throwing plates against the wall, or even yanking the tablecloth off the table during a meal, sending plates of food flying.
Hutchinson’s testimony clearly hit a nerve with Trump, who posted ten different times on his Truth Social app during her two-hour appearance, to attack her as a “phony” and “third rate social climber.”
“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, very much like the Unselect Committee itself - Wouldn’t even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing. Her story of me throwing food is also false… and why would SHE have to clean it up, I hardly knew who she was?” Trump posted.
Trump’s far-right supporters celebrated Hutchinson’s testimony about the violent altercation in the car, hailing the former president as a beacon of masculinity who was prepared to physically fight his own Secret Service agents for “the cause.” To some, the anecdote serves as proof that Trump did not abandon the Jan. 6 rioters.
“Yoooooo!” wrote one Proud Boy group on Telegram. “Sounds pretty based actually,” wrote another with the handle “Arkansas Groyper.”
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