US President Donald Trump was so determined to join the armed crowd marching towards the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, that he grabbed the wheel of The Beast, the presidential limousine, in an attempt of directing it towards the unfolding insurrection. according to a new account from a top White House adviser.
The fickle Trump was known to show his anger, pulling a tablecloth to break plates and leaving the wall of the presidential dining room smeared with tomato sauce after throwing a plate, Cassidy Hutchinson, former assistant to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, he said Tuesday.
But on January 6, his fury was sparked by his failed attempt to join armed protesters, following a speech in which he told supporters, “We’re going to walk to the Capitol.”
At the time, Trump was told that security services had observed men armed with Glock pistols and AR-15 assault rifles outside The Ellipse, the park south of the White House where Trump delivered remarks, while Congress was meeting to certify the November 3, 2020 election of Joe Biden as president, a vote whose result Trump questioned.
In the weeks after the uprising, Trump supporters said his remarks about joining the protest on Capitol Hill were metaphorical.
Not so, said Hutchinson, who was within earshot of Trump at key moments on Jan. 6.
On Tuesday, Ms. Hutchinson, 26, described what she saw and heard that day to the US House of Representatives committee that is investigating what happened and the threat it posed to the US system of government. USA
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His testimony reshaped the flirting with anti-democratic rebellion that marked Trump’s last days in office, depicting chaos and fear inside the White House that mirrored the storming of barricades less than two miles away.
Ms. Hutchinson described Trump on January 6 as a leader who, after losing an election, wanted to join armed insurgents in their movement on Capitol Hill in an attempt to block the transfer of executive power. At various points, Trump ignored protests from White House lawyers who tried to tone down his language and urged him to condemn protesters who entered the Capitol and came within 50 feet of then-Vice President Mike Pence.
Instead, as the crowd on Capitol Hill began chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” Trump told those with him in the Oval Office dining room that the vice president “deserved it,” Hutchinson said. Instead of demanding calm, Trump wanted to publicly assure protesters that he would potentially pardon them, he said. (Some of those closest to Trump, Hutchinson said, have also requested pardons related to the events of Jan. 6, including Meadows and presidential attorney Rudy Giuliani.)
Parts of what Ms. Hutchinson described were based on secondhand accounts, others on her own conversations with Mr. Meadows, White House staff, and members of Congress. Her recollections could not be immediately verified and some contradict public statements made by others involved.
Meadows and Trump did not respond publicly.
Mick Mulvaney, who preceded Meadows as White House chief of staff, called Hutchinson’s descriptions “explosive” and said on Twitter that others will have to respond: “If Cassidy is making this up, they will have to say that. If he isn’t, they’ll have to check. I know her. I don’t think she’s lying.”
The key elements of Ms. Hutchinson’s recollections took place around the January 6 speech at The Ellipse where, she said, Trump expressed distaste for the small size of the crowd. He was told that many people had refused to join because they didn’t want to go through the magnetometers, or magazines, used to detect metal objects. Some were armed and did not want the Secret Service to get hold of their weapons.
The White House knew that the protesters were carrying knives, guns, armor, bear spray and spears attached to flagpoles, Hutchinson said.
But Trump wanted to bypass security concerns to allow more people to join the crowd, he said.
“I hear the president say something to the effect of, ‘I don’t give a shit if they have guns. They are not here to hurt me. He removes the damn magazines. Let my people in. You can march to the Capitol from here,’” he said.
After Mr. Trump’s speech, he entered The Beast, expecting to be taken to the Capitol. When told that security concerns made it impossible, he got angry and told his head of security, “I’m the fucking president. Take me to the Capitol now,” said Mrs. Hutchinson.
Trump then “reached out to the front of the vehicle to grab the steering wheel,” he said, before lunging for the neck of his security chief.
Other White House staffers have also said that Trump wanted to join the protest, though their accounts are contradicted by Meadows, who in his book, the boss of the bosscalls the insurrection of January 6 was the work of “a handful of fanatics”. Mr. Meadows writes that the thousands of people who descended on Capitol Hill had “absolutely no push” from Mr. Trump, and that the then-president was “speaking metaphorically” when he mentioned going to Capitol Hill.
At 2:24 p.m. on Jan. 6, Trump tweeted that his vice president “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done,” a message that prompted some staffers to resign, before finally posting a video. statement that tells those on Capitol Hill: “We have to have peace. So go home, we love you.”
But he made that statement reluctantly and under pressure from others, including his daughter, Ivanka Trump, a key adviser, Hutchinson said.
Earlier in the day, he said, White House counsel Pat Cipollone had urged Meadows to see the president after rioters arrived at Capitol Hill.
Mr. Meadows, he said, looked up from his phone to reply: “He doesn’t want to do anything, Pat.”
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