The House of Representatives commission investigating the attack on the Capitol pulled a last-minute witness out of its sleeve on Tuesday. And what a witness! Cassidy Hutchinson, who was then assistant to the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, starred in the sixth session of the hearings with which they try to demonstrate the responsibility of Donald Trump and his people in the insurrection of January 6, 2021. The session was convened urgently despite the fact that a postponement had been decreed until mid-July. And he said many things, but above all one: that on that day, when the secret services alerted Trump that there were many people armed with rifles, pistols, knives and brass knuckles among the supporters who came to the call of his rally in Washington, the still president responded, according to Hutchinson’s testimony: “I don’t give a shit if they’re armed, they’re not here to hurt me.” Then he asked that they remove “the fucking arches” of metal detection to access the delimited area so that people could listen to his speech. “Let my people march on the Capitol from here,” he added.
Later, Liz Cheney, one of the two Republican congresswomen (along with seven Democrats) who are part of the commission, played that recording of Trump, repeated ad nauseam this year and a half, in which he is heard inciting the mob up to three times to march to the seat of American democracy. That day four people died in the attack. Five more died in the following days. One of the main arguments of Trump’s defenders is that he could not have known that that invitation would become the extreme act of violence that was broadcast live to the whole world, also on television through which Trump followed the events from the Office Oval. After Hutchinson’s testimony, it’s even harder to believe.
Another of the strong points of the testimony of the former White House official, dealt with the tycoon’s attempts to go to the Capitol to accompany his followers, despite the fact that everyone around him advised against it. “I am the president of the United States, take me there!” he yelled. Trump, “visibly angry”, even fought with a member of the secret service to take control of the steering wheel of the limousine that was taking him to the White House to return to the Capitol, along with his supporters. Robert Engel, the officer in charge of his security that day, took his arm and said, “Sir, you need to drop that flyer. We’re going to the West Wing, we’re not going to the Capitol.”
Once they managed to take him to his official residence, things didn’t exactly calm down. Hutchinson described a fight between him and Attorney General William Barr, in which Trump ended up slamming the plates against the wall and putting “all wasted ketchup”.
When the recess arrived, Hutchinson took his folder, got up from the podium and left the solemn hall of Congress in which the hearings are being held with a serious gesture and his eyes fixed on the front, while some spontaneous applause was heard in the background. They came from the place where the congressmen who attend as public sit these days. Also sitting there were two Capitol Police who haven’t missed any of the sessions. They shook their heads the entire time, in disbelief, knowing that Trump’s advisers knew for a fact that their lives were at risk that day, and they did nothing to prevent it. “It was clear to us from the beginning that the police were not going to be enough to protect the Capitol,” Hutchinson said.
The expectation before the start of the session was greater than in previous days. There were also doubts about whether this appearance would be able to live up to an emergency call. He did not disappoint. To cure himself in health, the president of the commission, the Democrat from Mississippi Bennie Thompson, presented the witness providing evidence that she was always in the circle closest to Trump in those months. They even projected a map of the first floor of the West Wing of the White House, according to which his office was located just two rooms from the Oval Office. Thompson thus wanted to preempt the criticism and efforts of those who worked with her to minimize her testimony as that of someone minor. After the first part of her statement, it was clear that her words will play a fundamental role in the case that the commission is building on January 6 so that the Department of Justice takes note and acts accordingly. Meanwhile, the official account of the Republican members of the Congressional Judiciary Committee, led by Jim Jordan, a senator from Ohio, reacted on Twitter with the following message: “So this was the star witness,” a phrase that was accompanied by one of those emoticons that die of laughter..
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Hutchinson also testified that her boss, Meadows, expressed concern on Jan. 2 that Trump’s rally could get out of hand. “Things could get very, very ugly on January 6,” Meadows told her, always according to the witness.
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