On Tuesday, Cassidy Hutchinson, the top assistant to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, appeared before the congressional committee investigating Trump’s attempt to thwart democracy and overturn the election he lost.
Hutchinson’s revelation that Trump knew his supporters were armed with weapons when he directed them to the building was just one in a series of bombshell moments.
‘I’m the f-ing president’
According to Hutchinson, an “irate” Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the presidential limo from a secret service officer in hopes of driving to the Capitol to join the insurrection.
Hutchinson testified that she heard from another Trump aide about the ex-president’s mood after he instructed his supporters to march on the Capitol building.
“The president said something to the effect of, I’m the f-ing president, take me up to the Capitol now. To which [Secret Service agent Bobby Engel] responded, ‘Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing,’” Hutchison said.
She continued: “The president reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr Engel grabbed his arm and said, ‘Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel, we’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol.’”
“Mr Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel and when Mr [Anthony] Ornato had recounted the story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.”
‘There was ketchup dripping down the wall’
Hutchinson told the committee she heard a noise from the White House dining room after Trump learned of the interview, and peeked into the room soon after.
“I first noticed there was ketchup dripping down the wall, and there was a shattered porcelain plate,” Hutchinson said. She added that the valet conveyed “that the president was extremely angry at the attorney general’s AP interview and had thrown his lunch against the wall, which was causing them to have to clean up”.
Hutchinson added that Trump had angrily flung food and dishes on multiple other occasions and that he sometimes lifted the entire tablecloth to spread his mess.
“There were several times throughout my tenure with the chief of staff that I was aware of him either throwing dishes or flipping the tablecloth to let all the contents at the table go onto the floor and likely break or go everywhere,” she said.
‘He thinks Mike deserves it’
Hutchinson told the panel she remembered White House counsel Pat Cipollone telling her boss Meadows, with a high degree of alarm, that the mob was “literally calling for [vice president Mike Pence] to be f-ing hung”.
Meadows replied, “You heard [Trump], Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”
“This is f-ing crazy,” Cipollone replied.
Trump knew the crowd was heavily armed
The president knew members of the crowd at the Stop the Steal rally had AR-15s, handguns, bear spray, spears and other weapons, and were wearing body armour when he directed the mob to the US Capitol.
Hutchinson testified that Trump urged the secret service to take down the magnetometers – or metal detectors – that were set up at the location of his speech so more people could attend, because armed individuals were unwilling to go through them.
Audio from Capitol Police played at the hearing also shows officers were concerned about highly armed individuals wearing military fatigues outside Trump’s speech before he told them to march to the Capitol.
Trump, having been warned about the weapons, was aware of the danger they posed but was seemingly relaxed about it, Hutchinson testified.
“I heard the president say something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons,’” she said. “‘They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags [metal detectors] away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.’”
Plans to ‘go to the Capitol’ were known days before January 6
On January 2, four days prior to the mob attack, Hutchinson escorted Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to his car after a meeting at the White House. Hutchinson said Giuliani told her they were “going to the Capitol” as part of a plan to keep Trump in power, and that “the president’s going to be there” and “it’s going to be great”.
When she asked Meadows about that comment, she said he appeared to know all about it. “There’s a lot going on,” Meadows replied, Hutchinson said. “Things might get real, real bad on January 6.”