Following the bombshell testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson before the Jan 6. committee, a war of leaks and secret source commentary has erupted over what took place in the presidential motorcade on the day of the Capitol riot.
Sources within the Secret Service now tell CNN that a description of an incident involving President Trump angrily demanding to be taken to the Capitol on Jan. 6, and lunging at agents within the president’s vehicle, circulated amongst staff for months following the events. Two Secret Service sources told CNN they heard the story from multiple agents, including the driver of the presidential vehicle where the events allegedly took place.
The public first became aware of the incident through testimony from Hutchinson, an aide to former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who detailed a conversation with Secret Service official Anthony Ornato. Ornato described to Hutchinson an irate Trump yelling at Secret Service agents attempting to transport him back to the White House. “I’m the f-ing president,” Trump allegedly demanded. “Take me to the Capitol now.” Hutchinson also said that Ornato described to her how Trump tried to grab the vehicle’s steering wheel before “lunging” toward Secret Service agent Bobby Engel.
One source, a longtime Secret Service employee, told CNN that agents had described to him how the president “sort of lunged forward … Nobody said Trump assaulted him; they said he tried to lunge over the seat. For what reason, nobody had any idea.” The source also relayed that agents often spoke of outbursts from Trump in which the president would throw or break things.
Following Hutchinson’s testimony, The Washington Post reported that, according to two law enforcement sources, three unnamed Secret Service agents who accompanied Trump disputed claims “that he assaulted or grabbed at the leader of his security detail or that he grabbed for the steering wheel.” Engel and Ornato have both been privately interviewed by the panel, and according to sources are both willing to testify under oath before the committee.
🚨 A source close to the Secret Service tells me both Bobby Engel, the lead agent, and the presidential limousine/SUV driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Mr. Trump never lunged for the steering wheel.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) June 28, 2022
Investigative reporter Hunter Walker appeared to lend credence to CNN’s report on Friday, tweeting that in April, a source in law enforcement told him that D.C. Metropolitan Police officers affiliated with the presidential motorcade shared stories with him about Trump “demanding to be [driven] to the Capitol and getting into an altercation with Secret Service on January 6.”
Back in April, a law enforcement source told me that they heard DC Metropolitan Police officers affiliated with the presidential motorcade share a story of Trump demanding to be drive to the Capitol and getting into an altercation with Secret Service on January 6.
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) July 1, 2022
The tug of war between sources, some attempting to discredit Hutchinson’s testimony in its entirety, has only upped the intrigue around what exactly took place behind the scenes of the presidency on Jan. 6. The Jan. 6 committee is expected to continue interviewing witnesses following the congressional recess, and there’s reason to believe members of the Secret Service may find themselves added to the roster.