‘Irate’ Trump grabbed steering wheel, attacked Secret Service agent when he was told he wasn’t going to Capitol

‘I’m the f***ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now.’

Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 29 June 2022 13:05 BST
Trump tried to 'grab wheel' when told he wasn't being taken to Capitol, Jan 6 hearing told

An “irate” Donald Trump grabbed the steering wheel of his limousine and attacked a Secret Service agent when he was told he was not being taken to the US Capitol, the January 6 committee has been told in its most stunning hearing yet.

In cool, measured tones, that were in stark contrast to the incidents she was describing, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said she was told Mr Trump wanted to go to the Capitol so badly he attempted to grab the steering wheel of “The Beast” after being told he was going back to the White House instead.

He also grabbed at the “clavicle” of a Secret Service agent, Ms Hutchinson testified.

Tony Ornato, then-White House deputy chief of staff, told Ms Hutchinson that Robert Engel, the Secret Service agent in charge on January 6 2021, had repeatedly told Mr Trump on their way back to the White House after his rally speech that it was not safe to go to the Capitol.

According to Ms Hutchinson, Mr Ornato recounted Mr Trump screaming: “I’m the f***ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now.”

The agent had to physically restrain Mr Trump, who was sitting in the back seat and used his free hand to lunge toward the neck of the Secret Service agent, Mr Engel, Ms Hutchinson testified.

“Mr Trump then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel,” she added.

Ms Hutchinson, whose desk was located just yards away from the Oval Office, admitted she did not see the epsiodes with the Secret Service agent herself. But as executive assistant to ex-chief of staff Mark Meadows, she was in a place where she easily able to be know what people around the president was talking about.

“Tony proceeded to tell me that when the president got in the ‘Beast’ he was under the impression from Mr Meadows that the off-the-record movement to the Capitol was still possible and likely to happen, but that Bobby had more information,” she said on Tuesday.

“So as the President had gotten into the vehicle with Bobby, he thought they were going up to the Capitol and when Bobby relayed to him we’re not, we don’t have the assets to do it, it’s not secure, we’re going back to the West Wing, the President had a very strong, very angry response to that.”

She added: “Tony described him as being ‘irate’. The President said something to the effect of ‘I’m the F-ing President, take me to the Capitol now.’”

Trump 'threw his lunch against wall' leaving trail of ketchup on Jan 6, former aide tells hearing

Ms Hutchinson also testified she did hear Mr Trump speaking on the morning of January 6, when hundreds of his supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to stop certifying the election of Joe Biden, saying that he did not care if his supporters gathered close to Congress were carrying weapons.

She said he did not care if they marched to the Capitol carrying guns or knives, as Mr Trump didn’t believe himself to be a target of any potential violence.

Indeed, he expressed anger that the Secret Service, charged with protecting the president, was using metal-detecting magnetometers to keep armed people out of the fenced-off area where he spoke.

“I overheard the president say something to the effect of 'I don't f***ing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the f***ing mags away. Let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in, take the f-ing mags away,” she said.

Mr Trump on Tuesday dismissed Ms Hutchinson’s testimony, denying her claim that he had tried to grab the steering wheel, or that he had thrown his lunch at the wall.

The hearing was the latest in a series of public events held by the commitee, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, and tasked with scrutinising the events of January 6, as well coordination of the president’s inner circle before and after the riot.

Some hope the committee will bring to light evidence that could be used to charge Mr Trump or his senior staff with a crime.

Democrats, at least, are optimstic the revelations could help them in some races as they prepare for the midterm elections.

Ms Hutchinson, 26, also spoke of the concerns among many in the White House, in those frantic, frenzied days after Mr Trump’s defeat by Mr Biden, that they could find themselves being asked to act illegally.

“We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable,” Ms Hutchinson said White House counselor Pat Cipollone told her if Mr Trump were to go to the Capitol on Jan 6.

“‘We need to make sure that this doesn’t happen, this would be a really terrible idea for us. We have serious legal concerns if we go up to the Capitol that day,’” Mr Cipollone said, Ms Hutchinson testified.

Me Hutchinson also testified that just days before the attack on the Capitol, Mr Meadows knew of the looming violence that could unfold.

“‘Things might get real, read bad on Jan 6,’” she quoted him as saying inside the White House on 2 January with her boss.

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani, an adviser to Trump, said about January 6: “‘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,’” Ms Hutchinson testified.

“It was the first moment that I remembered feeling scared and nervous of what could happen on Jan 6,” she said.

She told the comittee that when Mr Trump returned to the White House, he threw his lunch at the wall after being furious with an interview that Attorney General Bill Barr had given.

“Ater Mark had returned, I left the office and went down to the dining room and I noticed that the door was propped open and the valet was inside the dining room changing the table cloth off of the dining room table. He motioned for me to come in and then pointed towards the front of the room near the fireplace mantle and the TV where I first noticed there was ketchup dripping down the wall and there’s a shattered porcelain plate on the floor.”

“So I grabbed a towel and started wiping the ketchup off the wall to help the valet out,” she added.

Ms Hutchinson, whose testimony was reportedly brought forward because of concerns for her safety, concluded by saying she felt deeply saddened by what had happened.

“As a staffer that works to always represent the administration to the best of my ability, and to showcase the good things that he had done for the country, I remember feeling frustrated, disappointed, it felt personal, I was really sad,” she said.

“As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic, it was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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