- Hutchinson described Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and House Republicans holding strategy sessions.
- At least five House Republicans sought pardons, according to Hutchinson.
- Meadows used encrypted Signal communications and reportedly burned documents after meetings.
WASHINGTON – The House committee investigating the Capitol attack Jan. 6, 2021, is holding an abruptly scheduled hearing Tuesday with testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson and “recently obtained evidence.”
- Trump was warned not to march to Capitol. Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former President Donald Trump, said White House counsel Pat Cipollone voiced concerns repeatedly about Trump’s plan to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as potentially illegal. “Please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy,” Hutchinson quoted Cipollone as telling her the morning of Jan. 6.
- 🎙️ Who is testifying? Hutchinson has been a key witness in taped statements about lawmakers meeting with former President Donald Trump to discuss how to challenge 2020 election results, lawmakers asking for pardons and reportedly how Meadows burned papers in his office after meeting with a lawmaker.
What we know about today’s hearing:Jan. 6 hearing Tuesday will reveal ‘recently obtained’ evidence. Here’s what we know.
Hutchinson, an aide to former President Donald Trump, said White House counsel Pat Cipollone voiced concerns repeatedly about Trump’s plan to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as potentially illegal.
“Please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy,” Hutchinson quoted Cipollone as telling her the morning of Jan. 6. “Keep in touch with me. We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.”
Trump never walked to the Capitol. But he said he would during his speech on the Ellipse that morning. Cipollone warned Hutchinson that Trump could be charged with obstructing justice or defrauding the count of Electoral College ballots if he did that.
“We need to make sure that this doesn’t happen,” Hutchinson quoted Cipollone as telling her Jan. 3. “This would be legally a terrible idea for us. We have serious legal concerns if we go up to the Capitol that day.”
– Bart Jansen
Multiple White House aides told the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack that Trump wanted to accompany the Jan. 6 rally attendees on their march to the Capitol.
Max Miller, former White House aide, said Trump had a desire to drive down to the Capitol after his speech “came up” in conversation.
“He brought it up. He said ‘I wanted to go down to the Capitol.’”
Another former White House aide, Nick Luna, said Trump wanted to “march” to the Capitol with the protestors. “I was aware of the desire of the president to potentially march, or accompany the rally attendees to the Capitol.”
– Kenneth Tran
Hutchinson told the committee that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and other lawyers stressed to Trump and aides that marching to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, could expose him to a number of criminal charges – including inciting a riot.
It would look like “we were inciting a riot or were encouraging a riot,” Hutchinson recalled the White House counsel saying.
A riot is exactly what happened when Trump’s supporters showed up at the Capitol after Trump’s fiery rally speech.
Other potential charges included obstruction of justice and defrauding the electoral vote count, Hutchinson said in quoting White House lawyers.
– David Jackson
Hutchinson said Trump lawyers had “many discussions” on the morning of Jan. 6 about their concerns of what Trump planned to say in his speech outside the White House.
Eric Herschmann, one of the attorneys, said Trump would be “foolish” to include language that the president requested in which the president would say, “We’re gonna march the Capitol. I’ll be there with you. Fight for me. Fight for what we’re doing. Fight for the movement.”
Later, Trump attorney Pat Cipollone said it would be a “legally terrible idea for us” if Trump followed through and marched to the Capitol while Congress counted electoral votes.
– Joey Garrison
Hutchinson, principal aide to chief of staff Mark Meadows, said she tried repeatedly to tell Meadows about violence at the Capitol while Capitol Police were being overrun by attackers.
A couple of times before she was able to tell him, she opened a door to a car he was in, and he closed it. She said a backlog of information she needed to relay to him built up. When she was finally able to pass on information about violence at the Capitol, she said he barely reacted.
“He almost had a lack of reaction,” Hutchinson said. “I remember him saying, ‘All right,’ something to the effect of, ‘How much longer does the president have left in his speech?’”
– Erin Mansfield
In text messages between former Deputy Chief of Staff Anthony Ornado and former aide to Mark Meadows, Cassidy Hutchinson, Trump was “f—ing furious,” at there being extra space at the Ellipse prior to the Capitol attack.
“He was furious because he wanted the area that we had on the Ellipse to be maxed out at capacity for all attendees.” Trump was told that everyone who wanted to attend was already there, but Hutchinson said he was still angry.
When looking at photos of the crowd, Trump was “very concerned about the shot, meaning the photograph that we would get because the rally space wasn’t full.”
– Kenneth Tran
Hutchinson said Meadows did not look up from his phone when Tony Ornato, White House deputy chief of staff of operations, informed him that rioters who were gathered for a Trump rally outside the White House on Jan. 6 had weapons.
She recalled Meadows remained looking down at this phone for a few seconds. He then asked her what she was hearing.
“And I looked at Tony and I was like, ‘Sorry, I just told you about what was happening.'”
Trump supporters with weapons later made their way down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.
– Joey Garrison
In the backstage area of Trump’s rally held on Jan. 6, Hutchinson overheard Trump tell staff that he didn’t care whether people had weapons, to let them into the rally area because “they’re not here to hurt me.”
Hutchinson said Trump was upset at the size of his rally crowd and was primarily angry that staff wasn’t letting through his supporters that were carrying weapons.
“Let the people in, take the f–ing mags away,” Trump said, referring to magnetrometers, or metal detectors.
– Katherine Swartz
Hutchinson said the deputy chief of staff, Tony Ornato, notified Trump before 10 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, about people on the Ellipse carrying weapons including flagpoles, sticks, spears, knives and guns including pistols and rifles.
Former chief of staff Mark Meadows didn’t react to his own briefing by Ornato. But then he looked up and said, ‘Have you talked to the president?’” according to Hutchinson. “Tony said, ‘Yes, sir. He’s aware too.’ He said, ‘All right, good.’”
The vice chair of the committee, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., asked Hutchinson to reinforce that Ornato had briefed the president about weapons at the location where he was about to give a speech.
“That’s what Mr. Ornato relayed to me,” Hutchinson said.
– Bart Jansen
On the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, police said there were men within walking distance of the ellipse armed with AR-15-style rifles and Glock-style pistols. Some hid out in trees.
In radio communication played by the Jan. 6 committee Tuesday, police said two complainants saw the stock of an AR-15 under one man’s jacket. Another police officer described three men in fatigues walking with AR-15 rifles.
“Look for the don’t tread on me flag,” one officer said describing a man in a tree. “American flag face mask. Cowboy boots. Weapon on the right side hip.”
– Erin Mansfield
Hutchinson testified that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornado had received intelligence reports saying there was potential for violence on Jan. 6.
As deputy chief of staff, Ornado was responsible for security protocols between the White House and the Secret Service, which also received reports of violence and weapons in the leadup to Jan. 6.
– Katherine Swartz
Cassidy Hutchinson said that while in the White House, she heard the words “Oathkeeper” and “Proud Boys” as Jan. 6 drew closer.
“I recall hearing the words ‘Oathkeeper’ and the words ‘Proud Boys,’ closer to the planning of the January 6 rally when Mr. Giuliani would be around,” said Hutchinson, in deposition to the Jan. 6 committee.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., also revealed that on Jan. 3, U.S. Capitol Police issued a report noting “that the Proud Boys and other groups planned to be in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6,” and that they targeted Congress rather than counter-protestors.
– Kenneth Tran
Hutchinson said the director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, avoided involvement in the administration’s post-election agenda of fighting the results of the 2020 election.
Ratcliffe, a former Republican member of the House from Texas, thought searching for missing ballots and challenging election results in specific states would hurt former President Donald Trump’s legacy, according to Hutchinson.
“He had expressed concern that it could spiral out of control and potentially be dangerous either for our democracy or the way that things were going for the Sixth,” Hutchinson said in videotaped testimony to the committee. “He felt that there could be dangerous repercussions.”
– Bart Jansen
Hutchinson recounted how a number of White House officials expressed fears that the Jan. 6, 2021, election protests could get violent because of extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers – and that Trump had to know as well.
On tape, Hutchison talked about how national security adviser Robert O’Brien wanted to meet with Meadows about the potential for violence.
“I was apprehensive about the 6th,” Hutchinson told the committee at one point.
The committee is trying to prove that Trump and his allies knew that Jan. 6 could get dangerous – yet egged on their supporters anyway.
– David Jackson
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Mark Meadows, said she started feeling “scared and nervous” about what could happen on Jan. 6 after talking to Meadows about comments made by Rudy Giuliani.
Hutchinson relayed Giuliani’s comments to Meadows.
“He didn’t look up from his phone and said something to the effect of there’s a lot going on … Things might get real, real bad on January 6,” Meadows said, according to Hutchinson.
“That evening was the first moment that I remember feeling scared and nervous for what could happen on January 6,” Hutchinson said.
– Joey Garrison
Former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows told his principal aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, that “Things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6,” according to Hutchinson’s testimony on Tuesday.
Hutchinson said went to Meadows after walking Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to his car on the evening of Jan. 2, 2021, four days before the insurrection attempt. Giuliani asked her, “Cass, are you excited for the sixth?” she testified. “It’s going to be a great day.”
When Hutchinson asked Giuliani what was going to happen on Jan. 6, she says he told her, “We’re going to the Capitol. It’s going to be great. The president’s going to be there. He’s going to look powerful.” He also told her to go to Meadows: “Talk to the chief about it.”
– Erin Mansfield
Hutchinson was a special assistant to the president for legislative affairs and aide to Meadows. She told the panel she attended key meetings and often knew about meetings involving Trump and Meadows.
“Almost all, if not all, meetings Mr. Trump had, I had insight on,” Hutchinson told the panel.
Hutchinson described White House strategy sessions where lawmakers discussed how to reject electors from specific states. She said how Meadows communicated with encrypted applications such as Signal. She said Meadows burned documents in his office fireplace after meeting with Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., according to reports in The New York Times and Politico.
And Hutchinson said Meadows described Trump as speaking approvingly of rioters chanting “Hang Mike Pence” while ransacking the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump denied using the phrase. Meadows has defied a committee subpoena to testify, and the House cited him for contempt.
Hutchinson named the lawyers and lawmakers who met repeatedly with White House officials during December to challenge electors in several states Trump lost.
She said the strategy sessions in person and by phone included Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Jody Hice of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Debbie Lesko of Arizona and Perry.
Trump’s lawyer John Eastman proposed a scheme for seven states President Joe Biden won to submit alternate sets of electors to Congress, to potentially delay certification of the results or overturn the election.
After White House officials met with advisers outside the executive branch, such as Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Hutchinson said the White House counsel’s office called the strategy “not legally sound,” according to one of her depositions.
She said the counsel office’s guidance ran along the lines of: “That’s not legal, we’re not putting ourselves in that line of fire” or “Don’t raise that to Mr. Trump, it’s not appropriate, and it’s not a legal theory we want to entertain right now.”
Hutchinson described in videotaped testimony Thursday how lawmakers who attended the meeting Dec. 21, 2020, such as Biggs, Brooks, Gaetz, Gohmert and Perry, sought pardons.
John McEntee, former director of the White House presidential personnel office, also described Trump as considering a blanket pardon. And Eric Herschmann, a former White House lawyer, said there was a general discussion of pardons for those who defended Trump.
“I guess Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Brooks, I know, have both advocated for there’d be a blanket pardon for members involved in that meeting,” Hutchinson said. “Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early December.”
Each of the lawmakers denied wrongdoing. Biggs, Gohmert and Perry denied asking for a pardon.
Gaetz called the investigation a witch hunt. Brooks defended his pardon request by saying Democrats could abuse the judicial process by prosecuting Republicans.
Here are three highlights from the committee’s last hearing on Thursday:
- Trump wanted the DOJ to “lend credibility” to his claims of election fraud and told agency heads to “leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen,” according to evidence.
- Trump sought to replace then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen with Clark, an environmental lawyer. The committee presented a draft letter written by Clark addressed to Georgia legislative leaders which falsely alluded to possible voter fraud in key states.
- A roster of GOP lawmakers, including Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama, Matt Gaetz of Florida and Andy Biggs of Arizona, asked for presidential pardons the day after Jan. 6, 2021, according to aides.
Hutchinson said Meadows traveled Dec. 22 to Cobb County, Georgia, to meet with Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs and to see ballot counting during an audit of voter signatures.
Hutchinson said Meadows was visiting his son in Georgia for Christmas, so monitoring the ballot counting was convenient.
“He wanted to do more of a status check to see where they were at with things, if they had thoughts that they needed any more resources, if there was anything that the White House could do to help ease the process along,” Hutchinson said.
The hearing, which was announced Monday after committee members said they wouldn’t hold another until late July, will be the sixth in June.
Previous sessions featured testimony about police injuries during the riot, about former President Trump’s aides telling him lost the election, and his pressure on state officials, Vice President Mike Pence and on Justice Department officials.
The chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said Thursday the investigation continues and new information is pouring in.
“Those hearings have spurred an influx of new information that the committee and our investigators are working to assess,” Thompson said.
Among the new evidence, a British documentarian provided the panel with previously unreleased recordings of exclusive interviews with Trump, his children and former Vice President Mike Pence before and after the Capitol attack.
Alex Holder said in a tweeted statement he began the project in September 2020 and hadn’t expected the recordings to be subpoenaed. His lawyer said the Trump’s had no editorial control over the video.
The recordings are scheduled to be part of a three-part series to be released this summer called, “Unprecedented.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism