According to a White House employee, then-US President Donald Trump and close associates were aware of the possible violence on January 6, 2021 in advance. Cassidy Hutchinson said at a public hearing by the investigative committee into the Capitol attack on Tuesday that Trump was aware of the guns in the audience before speaking to his supporters that day. Hutchinson worked in the White House for Trump’s then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
“I don’t care if they have guns – they’re not here to hurt me. You can march to the Capitol from here. Take away the damn metal detectors,” Cassidy quoted Trump as saying. She claimed to have heard these words from him shortly before his speech. When a president makes a speech, security personnel require those present to pass through metal detectors.
The committee of inquiry learned from law enforcement reports that participants at the Trump rally had pepper spray, knives, brass knuckles, tasers and blunt objects, said committee vice chair Liz Cheney. According to Hutchinson, Meadows was also informed – but showed almost no reaction.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone urged her on Jan. 3 to lobby Meadows to prevent a protest, Hutchinson said. “We’ll be charged with every crime imaginable if we start this movement,” he reportedly told her.
Citing a conversation he had with a colleague and the Secret Service official immediately after the incident, Hutchinson said Trump even tried to grab the driver’s steering wheel in the armored SUV. He is said to have said, “I’m the damn President, take me to the Capitol.”
The bodyguard grabbed his arm to keep him away from the steering wheel, she continued. Trump used his free arm to fight back.
Hutchinson said Chief of Staff Meadows — who appeared to approve of the plan — did not inform Trump that a trip to the Capitol would not be possible. There had previously been considerations that Trump might give another speech in front of the Capitol, Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson also called Trump’s attacks on former Vice President Mike Pence “unpatriotic”. She said, citing Meadows, that Trump believed Pence deserved the attacks against him.
Committee Vice Chair Cheney had made similar statements at a previous hearing. According to the Republican, Trump is said to have spoken positively about efforts to hang his vice president. Hutchinson was “disgusted” by all of this, she said. “It was unpatriotic, it was un-American. We watched the Capitol being defaced because of a lie,” she said of the Capitol attack.
According to Hutchinson, Trump is said to have thrown a plate of food against the wall in anger at an interview with the then Attorney General for the 2020 presidential election. She left her office in December and went to the dining room in the White House. The President had previously summoned her then boss there.
The valet “signaled me to come in and then pointed to the front of the room, near the mantel by the TV, where I first noticed ketchup dripping down the wall,” she said.
A broken porcelain plate lay on the floor. The servant then told her that Trump was so upset about an interview with Attorney General William Barr that he threw his lunch against the wall. Barr said in the interview that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
On January 6, 2021, Trump supporters violently stormed the seat of parliament in the capital Washington. Congress met there to certify Biden’s election victory. Five people were killed in the riots, including a police officer. The attack on the heart of US democracy shook the country. Trump had recently incited his supporters at a rally that his election victory had been stolen.
Hutchinson had been summoned as a surprise witness. At a previous hearing, she had already come into focus – but at that time only videos of her statements were shown.