Donald Trump in the presidential limousine, flanked by the Secret Service, during his inauguration
Joseph Petro, a retired Secret Service agent who served alongside President Ronald Reagan, “sat in disbelief” as he listened to testimony Tuesday that Donald Trump tried to grab the wheel of his presidential limousine and lunged at the head of his Secret Service detachment in an attempt to join the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol.
“What happened in that car was pretty extraordinary,” Petro, a 23-year veteran of the Secret Service, tells PEOPLE. “Based on today’s testimony, it’s just mind-boggling, really.”
petro the service included monitoring functions under Reagan and Vice President Dan Quayle.
“I sat in the front right seat of [Reagan’s] limousine, I don’t know 100 times, in four years”, he says. assuming that’s true.”
“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” he says.
Cassidy Hutchinsonassistant to the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, gave the mind blowing testimony to the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection on Tuesday afternoon.
According to Hutchinson, Robert Engel, the head of Trump’s Secret Service detail, said Trump yelled, “I’m the f——president, take me to the Capitol now,” to which Engel replied, “Sir, we have to go back to the west wing.”
“The president then reached over to grab the steering wheel,” Hutchinson recalled Engel saying.
After Engel pushed back against Trump, the former president lunged at Engle, he testified.
When asked if Secret Service personnel are trained on how to respond to a situation like this, Petro said, “Well, it’s so absurd. I don’t think anyone ever thought they would need to know how to do that.”
Donald Trump with the Secret Service
He noted that it is a “long reach” from the back seat of the presidential limousine where the president sits to the steering wheel, about four or five feet.
“It’s an effort to get there,” he says. But video from Trump’s motorcade on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, shows that he was riding in an armored van, in a standard rear seat immediately behind the two agents with him in the front seat, and not in the limousine.
Still, Petro marveled at the altercation that Hutchinson said had been described to him: “I mean, I spent 23 years, I’ve never heard anything like it.”
Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Video of then-President Trump leaving his January 6, 2021 rally in a Secret Service SUV is shown at a June 28, 2022 hearing of the House select committee investigating the 2021 attack on the US Capitol. USA by Trump supporters.
Trump was also angry that the The Secret Service did not allow armed supporters through security. to get close to a stage where he was speaking before the Capitol attack, Hutchinson testified.
Petro praises the Secret Service for doing “the right thing against the president’s will” and adds that Engel “is to be commended.”
“He didn’t give up. He apparently did what was operationally sensible against the president’s will. And that’s commendable,” says Petro.
Donald Trump with Secret Service details at his inauguration
“I commend the Secret Service for their steadfastness in doing what their role is,” he says. “Protecting the President”.
“On the other end of the spectrum, he added: ‘I have no concern for the other guy. President.”
Hutchinson also testified that after Trump learned that Attorney General Bill Barr told the Associated Press that there was no widespread voter fraud, he hurled a porcelain plate against the wall, leaving ketchup running, while at other times he turned the tablecloths and sent all the content. from the table to the floor.
Petro says he has never seen any politician in his years in the Secret Service come close to this kind of behavior.
“You know, they all had a certain dignity,” he says. “You wouldn’t even dream of this kind of thing.”