Trump tried to grab steering wheel, lunged at head of security after he was told he couldn’t go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, former Meadows aide says

In stunning testimony delivered Tuesday at the sixth public hearing on the Capitol assault, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, said recounted hearing about how President Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle and lunged at his head of security after he was told he could not go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. 

Hutchinson said that after Trump delivered his speech to the crowed at the Ellipse that day, she returned to the White House and saw Anthony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official who was detailed to the White House and served as deputy chief of operations. Ornato pulled her into his office, where Trump’s head of security at the time, Robert Engel, was sitting in a chair looking “somewhat discombobulated and a little lost,” she said. 

She said Ornato told her that when Trump entered “The Beast” — the president’s heavily armored SUV limousine — he still believed it would be possible for him to go to the Capitol. But when Engel told him they couldn’t for security reasons, Trump had “a very strong, very angry response,” she said she was told. 

“The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now,'” she said. 

When told that wouldn’t be possible, Trump “reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel,” she said Ornato told her. 

Engel then grabbed his arm and said, “Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing, we’re not going to the Capitol,” she said. 

In response, she said, Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Engel, noting that when Ornato told her the story, he “motioned towards his clavicles.” 

Hutchinson told the committee that Engel did not correct or dispute anything Ornato said. 

January 6th Committee Holds Surprise Hearing
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies at a hearing of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Tuesday, June 28, 2022. 

BRANDON BELL / Getty Images

The committee also played recorded testimony from then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who said that after returning to the White House, Trump still attempted to go to the Capitol. 

“I believe when we got back to the White House, he said he wanted to physically walk with the marchers,” McEnany said. “According to my notes, he then said he would be fine with just riding in the Beast. To the best of my recollection, he wanted to a be part of the march in some fashion.”  

Hutchinson’s testimony about what transpired in the car is one of many revelations that emerged during the hearing. Hutchinson also said Trump knew that some members of the crowd at his rally at the Ellipse, ahead of the Capitol riot, had guns and other weapons, but said he didn’t care and wanted them to be let into his rally anyway.

She testified that Trump said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away.” 

Trump responded to Hutchinson’s testimony on his social media startup, Truth Social. 

“I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and “leaker”),” he wrote. 

He also addressed the alleged car incident directly, calling it both “Fake” and “‘sick’ and fraudulent.” 

“Wouldn’t even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing,” Trump added. 

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