Trump knew Jan. 6 rallygoers had weapons but said they were ‘not here to hurt me,’ key aide testifies


Cassidy Hutchinson, a key aide in former U.S. president Donald Trump’s White House, told the House committee investigating the violent Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection on Tuesday that Trump was informed that people rallying on the mall that morning had weapons but he told officials to “let my people in” and march to the Capitol.

Trump demanded to accompany them, she said, and at one point he aggressively grabbed the steering wheel in the presidential limousine after he was told by security officials that it wasn’t safe. Hutchinson, who was an aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, said she was told that by Meadows’ deputy.

She said she wasn’t sure what he would have done at the Capitol as a violent mob of his supporters was breaking in. There were conversations about him “going into the House chamber at one point,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson quoted Trump as directing his staff, in profane terms, to take away the metal detectors, known as magnetometers or mags, that he thought would slow down supporters who’d gathered in Washington. In videotaped testimony played before the committee, she recalled the former president saying words to the effect of: “I don’t f-in’ care that they have weapons.”

“They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-in’ mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here,” Hutchinson testified.

WATCH | Aide testifies that Trump knew rallygoers had weapons, but wanted them on Capitol Hill: 

Trump wanted people with weapons at Jan. 6 rally: former aide

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson says Donald Trump knew people on Jan. 6 had weapons, but wanted them allowed into his rally since he wanted a large crowd.

Trump threw food in anger

As Trump spoke to thousands of supporters on the Ellipse behind the White House — and more gathered on the Washington Monument grounds, Hutchinson said, she received an angry call from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who had just heard the president say he was coming to the Capitol. “Don’t come up here,” McCarthy told her, before hanging up.

In the days before the attack, Hutchinson said that she was “scared, and nervous for what could happen” ahead of the riot after conversations with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Meadows and others.

Meadows told Hutchinson that “things might get real, real bad,” she said. Giuliani told her it was going to be “a great day” and “we’re going to the Capitol.” She described Meadows as unconcerned as security officials told him that people at Trump’s rally had weapons — including people wearing armour and carrying automatic weapons.

A month earlier, Hutchinson said, she heard noise inside the White House around the time an Associated Press article was published in which then U.S. attorney general William Barr said the Justice Department had not found evidence of voter fraud that could have affected the election outcome.

She said she entered a room and noticed ketchup dripping down a wall and broken porcelain. The president, it turned out, had thrown his lunch across the wall in disgust over the article and she was urged to steer clear of him, she said.

WATCH | Trump lunged at security in anger: 

Trump lunged at Secret Service agent: former White House aide

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson tells the Jan. 6 committee that Donald Trump lunged at a Secret Service agent to try to force him to drive to the Capitol.

Trove of information

The 25-year-old has already provided a trove of information to congressional investigators and has sat for multiple interviews behind closed doors. But the committee called the hearing this week to hear her public testimony, raising expectations for new revelations in the nearly yearlong investigation.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee’s chairman, said the panel called the hearing in light of “specific detailed information about what the former president and his aides were doing and saying in those critical hours.”

Thompson praised Hutchinson for her courage as he opened the hearing. 

The unexpected hearing was announced with 24 hours notice while lawmakers are away from Washington on a two-week recess. The committee had said last week that there would be no more hearings until July.

The committee’s investigation has been ongoing during the hearings, as the nine-member panel has continued to probe the attack by supporters of Trump. 

WATCH l Highlights from the most recent hearing on turmoil in the Justice Department:

Trump pressed Justice Department to overturn election, hearing told

Three former senior Justice Department officials testified about the pressure U.S. President Donald Trump placed on them to overturn the 2020 election.

In brief excerpts of testimony revealed in court filings, Hutchinson told the committee she was in the room for White House meetings where challenges to the election were debated and discussed, including with several Republican lawmakers. In one instance, Hutchinson described seeing Meadows incinerate documents after a meeting in his office with Republican Rep. Scott Perry, Politico reported in May.

She also revealed that the White House counsel’s office cautioned against plans to enlist fake electors in swing states, including in meetings involving Meadows and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Attorneys for the president advised that the plan was not “legally sound,” Cassidy said.

The committee has used the hearings to detail the pressure from Trump and his allies to deny an election win for Joe Biden. The panel has heard testimony about the pressure put on then vice-president Mike Pence, on the states that were certifying Biden’s win and on the Justice Department. 

The panel is expected to produce a report by year’s end. Two former Trump administration figures, Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, are facing criminal proceedings for refusing to co-operate with subpoenas from the committee.

Electoral fraud claims persist

The seven Democrats and two Republicans on the panel have argued the threat to elections persists. Millions of Americans still incorrectly believe Trump won, according to polls, while a Tuesday night primary in Colorado’s secretary of state race is among many state and local elections featuring candidates who believe the 2020 election was not fairly decided.

Front Burner25:35The Jan. 6 case against Donald Trump

Did Donald Trump break the law in his attempt to stay in power after 2020? That’s what the Jan. 6 House committee is trying to prove — with lots of evidence and dozens of witnesses, including some of Trump’s closest allies and even family. This week, Republican state representatives from Arizona and Georgia testified that Trump tried to pressure them to find votes and overturn the election. This week, on the fourth official day of public hearings, more evidence was presented showing the lengths Trump, and some in his inner circle, went through to push the “big lie” that the 2020 election was rigged. Today on Front Burner, the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake — on the evidence, the unanswered questions and what it would take for a criminal indictment against the former president.

Dozens of cases were brought before the U.S. courts and rejected. The Trump administration’s own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency characterized the election in a statement as “the most secure in American history.”

Bill Barr, Trump’s attorney general until December 2020, told the Jan. 6 committee in a sworn deposition that no fraud was unearthed that would change the outcome of the race, and that many of the claims of electoral fraud coming from Trump and his allies were nonsensical.

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