WASHINGTON (Fwrd Axis) — The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol continued with their public hearings on Tuesday, featuring bombshell testimony and painting former President Donald Trump as unhinged in the days leading up to January 6.
The committee heard testimony from Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide to then-Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. She testified how Trump and his inner circle were warned about the potential for violence on January 6 but shrugged it off, allowing things to proceed.
Here are four main takeaways from the sixth January 6 public hearing:
Trump and his staff were warned crowd was armed
Hutchinson testified Trump was personally aware of the potential for violence on January 6 but didn’t seem to care. She said on the morning of the January 6 rally, Trump was made aware of his supporters have weapons being confiscated from them before entering.
Other supporters declined to enter and decided to gather around the Washington monument to listen to the speech.
“I overheard the president say something to the effect of ‘I don’t f’ing care that they have weapons,” Hutchinson recalled. “They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags away. Let the people in, they can March the capitol from here.”
Two days prior to the Capitol attack, Meadows warned her that “things might get real, real, bad on January 6.” As the attack escalated, Hutchinson testified Meadows didn’t even look up from his phone.
“The potential for violence was learned or known before the onset of the violence, early enough for President Trump to have taken steps to prevent it,” said Republican Rep. Liz Cheney.
Trump was hell bent on going to the Capitol — and furious when he didn’t
Through witness testimony and White House records, the committee laid out how Trump intended to join his supporters at the Capitol and was pushing to do so before and after his speech on January 6.
Hutchinson testified that the Secret Service was working through plans while he was on stage to get Trump to the Capitol safely. National Security Council chat logs confirm Trump wanted to walk with his supporters against the advice of Secret Service agents.
“MilAide has confirmed that he wants to walk,” a 12:32 p.m. message reads. “They are begging him to reconsider.”
When Trump was told no, he became enraged. Tony Ornato, then-White House deputy chief of staff, told Hutchinson that Robert Engel, the Secret Service agent in charge on January 6.
Hutchinson testified that Ornato told her that Trump was screaming, “I’m the f**king President. Take me up to the Capitol now.”
She said according to Ornato, Trump “reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel” and then used his other hand “lunge” at Engel.
“People are going to die”
As previously mentioned by other witnesses, Trump gleed when his supporters were chanting for then Vice President Mike Pence to be hanged.
On Tuesday, Hutchinson recalled a conversation between White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Meadows that she was in the room for.
“I remember Pat saying something to the effect of ‘Mark, we need to do something more. They’re literally calling for the vice president to be f**king hung,’” Hutchinson recalled.
According to Hutchinson, Meadows responded: “You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”
Hutchinson said that Cipollone had first went to Meadow’s office when the rioters first breached the Capitol.
“Mark, something needs to be done, or people are going to die and the blood’s gonna be on your f**king hands,” Cipollone told Meadows, according to Hutchinson. “This is getting out of control.”
Committee has evidence of witness tampering
While the committee has secured evidence and testimony from several people in Trump’s inner circle, Cheney said in the closing moments of the hearing that it has evidence of of witness tampering, possibly by someone still loyal to the former president.
One unidentified witness said under sworn testimony: “What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that I’m on the team, I’m doing the right thing, I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump world.”
A second unnamed witness said he got a text that Trump was “thinking about you” and that “he knows you’re loyal” and hopes that “you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”
Cheney said the committee takes this “seriously” and will be considering “next steps,” hinting at a criminal referral.