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New House GOP Report Seeks to Discredit Cassidy Hutchinson’s Jan. 6 Testimony

Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein
Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein

House Republicans on Monday sought to undermine key testimony heard by the select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection—specifically, anecdotes relayed in 2022 by former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson about Donald Trump’s actions that day.

The 81-page report included a transcript of testimony from a Secret Service agent who drove Donald Trump’s armored vehicle on Jan. 6, 2021. That agent, who was not named, told investigators the ex-president never tried to grab his steering wheel—a bombshell claim Hutchinson revealed using admitted second- and third-hand information in 2022.

Hutchinson testified that Trump, after delivering his infamous speech on the morning of the Capitol riot, had cursed at and ordered Secret Service agents to drive him to the U.S. Capitol. When he was told no by his lead agent, Robert Engel, Hutchinson testified that she heard Trump tried to grab the vehicle’s steering wheel and lunged at another agent.

“I’m the f-ing president—take me up to the Capitol now,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.

In Monday’s report, however, Republicans said Hutchinson’s “sensational story” doesn’t hold water.

“I did not see him reach,” the Secret Service driver told House investigators, according to the report. “He never grabbed the steering wheel. I didn’t see him, you know, lunge to try to get into the front seat at all. You know, what stood out was the irritation in his voice, more than his physical presence.”

Whether Trump tried to grab the steering wheel or not has been one of the most scrutinized allegations concerning Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, and Monday’s report provided the first extensive on-the-record, first-hand testimony from inside the vehicle.

The transcript was part of interviews conducted with Secret Service agents about Trump’s actions on that day. The Jan. 6 committee said it’d kept the interviews private because they contained “privacy information, for-official-use-only information, intelligence and law enforcement sensitive records and raw intelligence information.”

Under fire from Republicans for the omission, the agency agreed last year to release redacted versions of several interviews with witnesses of Trump’s actions that day.

Loyalists of the former president have skewered the committee over the sheltering of the interviews, calling the decision to forego publication a cover-up of information which contradicted key parts of Hutchinson’s testimony.

Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, conceded in her 2022 testimony that none of the information she shared was witnessed by her personally—something Republicans, including Trump, argued should have disqualified her as a reliable witness. Still, her surprise testimony in June 2022 pulled back the curtain for the first time of the mindset—and actions—of Trump on Jan. 6.

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Monday’s report gave an in-depth break down of what occurred in the armored vehicle that day. It claimed that Trump entered alongside Secret Service agents, first asking about what the crowd estimates were for his speech.

The report said Trump then asked Engel to take him to the U.S. Capitol—a request Engel rejected because the area wasn’t secure, likely because it was unscheduled and because so many of Trump’s supporters in the area were armed.

“The president was insistent on going to the Capitol,” the driver said, according to Monday’s report. “It was clear to me he wanted to go to the Capitol. He was not screaming at Mr. Engel. He was not screaming at me. Certainly his voice was raised, but it did not seem to me that he was irate—certainly not, certainly didn’t seem as irritated or agitated as he had on the way to the (speech).”

Since Republicans took back the majority in the House, they’ve worked to discredit the findings of the Jan. 6 committee as Trump mounts his run at a return to the White House.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), who led the House GOP effort to investigate the Jan. 6 committee for bias, has repeatedly accused the Jan. 6 committee of propping up Hutchinson’s testimony more than that of other witnesses because it was most damaging to Trump.

“The content of these witness transcripts makes clear why the Select Committee chose not to release these transcripts despite releasing nearly every other witness transcript,” Monday’s report said. “These witnesses directly undermine claims made by Hutchinson and the Select Committee and underscore that the Select Committee only showed the public what it wanted them to see.”

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Hutchinson’s lawyer, William H. Jordan, penned a letter to Loudermilk in January that said his client has always been truthful. He said Hutchinson should be praised for testifying in front of Congress while other “men who occupied more senior roles” refused.

“Hutchinson will not succumb to a pressure campaign from those who seek to silence her and influence her testimony, even when done in the name of ‘oversight,’” he added.

Hutchinson and Jordan did not comment on Monday’s report, but leadership from the Jan. 6 committee spoke out against it, including Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who led the Jan. 6 committee.

“All the evidence points to the same conclusion: Donald Trump wanted to join his violent mob as it marched on the Capitol and he was irate when his security detail told him he couldn’t go,” he said.

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