WASHINGTON — In the hours after Cassidy Hutchinson delivered bombshell testimony to the Jan. 6 committee Tuesday, former President Trump and his allies rushed to attack the former White House staffer.
Hutchinson, who served as an aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, told the panel that Trump was aware that some of his supporters were armed when he urged them to march to the Capitol. She also testified that Tony Ornato, then the deputy White House chief of staff, told her the president was so “irate” that the Secret Service would not drive him to the Capitol that he reached for the steering wheel and lunged at an agent.
Trump and his allies have seized on media reports of pushback from unnamed Secret Service sources to paint Hutchinson’s sworn testimony as unreliable. So far, though, none of the people who have disputed Hutchinson’s story have done so under oath. Now members of the Jan. 6 committee, Hutchinson’s lawyer, and several of Hutchinson’s former Trump administration colleagues are challenging her critics to follow the 25-year-old’s lead and testify before Congress under penalty of perjury.
“The lies and fabricated stories being told to the partisan Highly Unselect Committee, not only by the phony social climber who got caught yesterday, but by many others, are a disgrace to our, in serious decline, Nation,” Trump wrote Wednesday morning on his social media platform, Truth Social. “No cross examination, no real Republicans, no lawyers, NO NOTHING. Fake stories and an all Fake Narrative being produced, with ZERO pushback allowed. Unselects should be forced to disband. WITCH HUNT!”
An anonymous Secret Service official told CNN that Ornato denies telling Hutchinson that Trump grabbed the steering wheel or an agent. “The agents are prepared to say under oath that the incident itself did not occur,” the official told the network. CNN’s anonymous source did not dispute that Trump was furious that he was not being driven to the Capitol. Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Secret Service, would not confirm the CNN report to The Times, saying only that the federal law enforcement agency “has been cooperating fully with the select committee since its inception in spring of 2021 and we will continue to do so including by responding formally and on the record to the committee regarding new allegations that surfaced in (Tuesday)’s testimony.”
Trump’s backers have also spread inaccurate claims about the plausibility of the limousine story. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., retweeted a graphic of the “Beast,” the presidential limousine, which appeared to illustrate how passengers are separated from the driver. “Cassidy Hutchinson lied and the @January6thCmte held a special hearing (Tuesday) to broadcast her lies,” Greene said. “In ‘23, every single one of them need to be held accountable for what they are putting Pres Trump, his admin, & Republicans through on the people’s dime. Enough of this.” Trump was actually transported in an SUV, not the Beast, on the morning of Jan. 6, a video played by the committee shows.
Jody Hunt, a former assistant attorney general under Trump who’s now working as Hutchinson’s legal counsel, called on others with knowledge of her testimony to come forward and testify under oath.
“Ms. Hutchinson testified, under oath, and recounted what she was told,” Hunt tweeted. “Those with knowledge of the episode also should testify under oath.”
Other Trump White House officials who leapt to Hutchinson’s defense also challenged her critics to come testify under oath. Alyssa Farah Griffin, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary and White House strategic communications director, described Hutchinson as a “friend.”
“To anyone who would try to impugn her character, I’d be glad to put you in touch w/ @January6thCmte to appear UNDER OATH,” she said, highlighting the fact that skeptics of Hutchinson’s testimony have been able to push back publicly without penalty of perjury.
“Anyone downplaying Cassidy Hutchinson’s role or her access in the West Wing either doesn’t understand how the Trump WH worked or is attempting to discredit her because they’re scared of how damning this testimony is,” added Sarah Matthews, a former deputy press secretary. “For those complaining of ‘hearsay,’ I imagine the Jan. 6 committee would welcome any of those involved to deny these allegations under oath.”
Former acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Meadows, Ornato and Robert Engel, the head of Trump’s Secret Service detail and the agent Trump reportedly lunged toward, should be prepared to testify as well.
“This is explosive stuff,” Mulvaney tweeted. “If Cassidy is making this up, they will need to say that. If she isn’t they will have to corroborate. I know her. I don’t think she is lying.”
Committee members also stood by Hutchinson.
“I found Cassidy Hutchinson to be a thoroughly credible witness, telling us what she saw, what she heard,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Burbank, told MSNBC. “She was very careful to differentiate when she was a participant in the conversation or actions were related to her by others.”
“Cassidy Hutchinson is one of the most brave and honorable people I know,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., wrote in one tweet. He added in another: “Watching the desperation of Trump world to discredit the brave Cassidy Hutchinson reminds me of…. Everything trump does when he is busted and cornered.”
Punchbowl News reported Wednesday that Hutchinson was a target of alleged witness intimidation from Trump world. At Tuesday’s hearing, Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., displayed two examples of what she described as attempts to influence what witnesses told the committee. One statement said “they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts and just to keep that in mind,” while in another statement, a person was told, “He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”