The Jan. 6 committee set high expectations when it announced on Monday that it would be holding an emergency hearing on Tuesday, citing “recently obtained evidence.” The hearing did not disappoint, with Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, over the course of just under two hours painting a damning, bombshell-filled account of former President Trump’s actions before, during, and after the Capitol attack.
Trump and his team have for the past year and a half sought to distance themselves from the violence on Jan. 6, claiming it was an unforeseen result of a small group of rioters who were acting independently of any direction from Trump officials. Trump, the official line has been, issued a statement aimed at quelling the violence, and certainly didn’t want any part of it.
That narrative was never credible. After Tuesday’s congressional hearing on Jan. 6, that narrative is dead.
“This is the smoking gun,” Sol Wisenberg, a former deputy to Ken Starr, told Peter Baker of The New York Times after the hearing. “There isn’t any question this establishes a prima facie case for his criminal culpability on seditious conspiracy charges.”
Mark Meadows was well aware of the possibility of violence
Hutchinson detailed a Jan. 2 conversation with her boss, former chief of staff Mark Meadows, in which Meadows warned her that things might get “real, real bad on Jan. 6.”
The conversation stemmed from an interaction Hutchinson had with former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who gushed to Hutchinson about plans to “go to the Capitol” on Jan. 6th, and insisted she ask Meadows about it.
Hutchinson testifies that on Jan 2, Giuliani met with Meadows and then told her that on January 6 "we're going to the Capitol." Meadows then told her something like, "things might get real, real bad on January 6" pic.twitter.com/Ah9SKAiPTL
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 28, 2022
Trump told Meadows to call Roger Stone and Michael Flynn the day before the attack
Hutchinson testified that Meadows had been instructed by Trump the night of Jan. 5 to call Roger Stone and Mike Flynn, and that it was her understanding that Meadows completed those calls.
Stone, a veteran of electoral rioting, has been investigated for his ties to extremist groups present at the Capitol attack, including the Proud Boys. Stone traveled to D.C. in the company of members of the extremist group The Oath Keepers who allegedly acted as security for Stone. Stone was seen in the company of a member of the group hours before the man was photographed with protesters on the eastern side of the Capitol.
Trump demanded armed supporters be allowed into the rally at the Ellipse before he called for a march to the Capitol
Hutchinson testified that on Jan. 6, Trump insisted that security measures be taken down at his Ellipse rally in order to boost the size of the crowd, arguing that people carrying weapons were “not here to hurt me.” Hutchinson said she overheard Trump say something to the effect of, “‘I don’t fucking care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the fucking [magnometers] away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.” Trump then proceeded to encourage rally-goers to march to the Capitol.
During the riot, Trump was so desperate to get to the Capitol that he had a physical struggle with a Secret Service agent who refused to take him there
Hutchinson relayed events described to her by Secret Service agent Anthony Ornato, who described how an irate Trump yelled at aides and Secret Service agents attempting to transport him back to the White House. “I’m the f-ing president,” Trump allegedly shouted. “Take me to the Capitol now.” Ornato also told Hutchinson that Trump “lunged” at Secret Service detail Bobby Engel, in an attempt to wrestle the steering wheel of the presidential limousine from him and steer himself to the Capitol.
Trump had a tantrum in the beast and said “I’m the f’ing President, take me to the Capitol now”
He then attempted to grab the steering wheel and physically assaulted a member of his staff pic.twitter.com/WiA8MHA7Tf
— Acyn (@Acyn) June 28, 2022
Trump threw food at the wall after learning that Bill Barr said publicly that there was no election fraud
Hutchinson also described entering the presidential dining room in early Dec. 2020 after Trump learned that former Attorney General Bill Barr said publicly that the Justice Department hadn’t found evidence of election fraud. Hutchinson noticed ketchup on the wall and a broken porcelain plate. She said staff informed her that Trump had thrown his food at the wall in a fit of rage.
Ketchup on the walls pic.twitter.com/WZ8z551QKW
— Acyn (@Acyn) June 28, 2022
Trump resisted calling the entry of rioters into the Capitol “illegal” when prompted to do so
Hutchinson revealed that she drafted a statement for President Trump asking protesters who had entered the Capitol “illegally” to leave. According to Hutchinson, Meadows took the draft statement to Trump, who scratched out the word “illegally” and refused to issue it. Hutchinson was told there would be no “further action on that statement.”
Hutchinson note on statement dictated by Meadows for Trump to put out.
Meadows came back after meeting w/ Trump and said “we don’t need to take further action on that statement,” and it was never issued, Hutchinson testifies. pic.twitter.com/dAIMnnwZC2
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) June 28, 2022
Stephanie Grisham, former chief of staff and press secretary to First Lady Melania Trump, later tweeted out a screenshot today of a text exchange between her and the first lady on Jan. 6, in which Melania refused to issue a statement condemning “lawlessness and violence” by protesters. Grisham resigned from her position later than evening.
— Stephanie Grisham (@OMGrisham) June 28, 2022
Trump floated pardoning rioters the day after the Capitol attack
Hutchinson said that Trump wanted to add language to a Jan. 7 speech about pardoning his supporters who stormed the Capitol, and that Meadows agreed with including such language. The language was ultimately not included in the speech on the advice of the White House counsel’s office, according to previous testimony given by Hutchinson.
Trump wanted to include a mention about pardons for January 6th rioters in January 7th speech. Meadows was encouraging it pic.twitter.com/Zf2EMURGom
— Acyn (@Acyn) June 28, 2022
Trump’s team engaged in witness tampering
The hearing’s final reveal was evidence of a coordinated coverup effort, including alleged efforts to intimidate witnesses into concealing what the knew about the Capitol attack and the Trump White House’s connection to it.
An unnamed witness describes how there is a culture of fear around testifying against Donald Trump because he might punish them: pic.twitter.com/nUeUZ3nmzo
— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) June 28, 2022
“[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow,” one witness told the committee they were told on a phone call. “He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”