Friday, March 24th, 2023

They’re not here to hurt me’: Former aide says Trump

They’re not here to hurt me’: Former aide says Trump knew Jan. 6 crowd was armed
Cassidy Hutchinson described violent outbursts from the former president on Jan 6.

WASHINGTON — In vivid detail, and under the bright lights of the House Jan. 6 committee’s hearing room, a former West Wing aide described the final furious — and violent — hours of President Donald Trump’s futile campaign to cling to power by all means available to him.

Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as a senior aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, detailed outbursts of rage from Trump the day he urged supporters to march to the Capitol, portraying him as angry and supportive of the Capitol attack — as his last, desperate grasp to overturn the will of voters failed.

“I don’t f—ing care that they have weapons,” Trump fumed in urging aides to take down magnetometers near the White House before he addressed a “Stop the Steal” rally, Hutchinson testified. “They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f—ing mags away.”

On Jan. 6, Trump planned to go to the Capitol with the mob after the rally, Hutchinson testified, citing conversations with Meadows and Trump confidant Rudy Giuliani.

In a series of posts on his platform Truth Social, Trump largely dismissed and denied Hutchinson’s testimony.

Relaying what she said she was told by Secret Service official Tony Ornato, Hutchinson recounted that Trump grew livid when his bodyguards told him his limousine was headed not to the Capitol, but back to the White House, after the rally.

“I am the f—ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,” Hutchinson recounted being told of Trump’s response.

Trump grabbed for the steering wheel from the back seat, wrestled with one of the bodyguards for control of the car and ultimately grabbed the bodyguard’s throat, Hutchinson said.

A source close to the Secret Service told NBC News after the hearing that both Bobby Engel, the lead agent, and the driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Trump never lunged for the steering wheel.

Anthony Gugliemi, a spokesman for the Secret Service, separately said in a statement that the agency “has been cooperating with the Select Committee since its inception in spring 2021, and will continue to do so, including by responding on the record to the Committee regarding the new allegations surfaced in today’s testimony.”

During her testimony, Hutchinson also recalled a conversation between Meadows and White House counsel Pat Cipollone after they had discussed the “Hang Mike Pence” chants at the Capitol.

As Cipollone tried to convince Meadows to do something to stop the riot, Hutchinson said the chief of staff replied, “You heard him [Trump], Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”

Trump’s anger fit a pattern, the 25-year-old former aide recalled. In December 2020, after Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press that there was no evidence of fraud in the election, Trump threw his ketchup-dressed lunch at a White House wall in a furious rage. Hutchinson cleaned up his mess.

The explosive testimony from Hutchinson, the official in closest proximity to Trump to appear at a public hearing, amounted to a stunning and strikingly detail-rich condemnation of a former president who demands absolute loyalty — and has mostly gotten it — from a close circle of aides and advisers.

“As an American, I was disgusted,” Hutchinson said Tuesday of Trump tweeting that Pence lacked courage as insurrectionists broke into the Capitol. “It was unpatriotic. It was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie.”

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