WASHINGTON — Former President Donald J. Trump knew the crowd he amassed in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021 was armed and could turn violent, but wanted security precautions lifted because he said his supporters were not there to attack him, a former White House aide testified on Tuesday.
Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s final chief of staff, told the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that top officials in the West Wing, including the president himself, were warned that the rally he planned could get out of control. The former president was even told there were weapons among the thousands he had brought to Washington, but he wanted metal detectors removed before the mob began storming the Capitol, she said.
Ms. Hutchinson appeared at a hearing that had been abruptly scheduled just one day earlier, in which the committee said it would present “recently obtained evidence” from a mystery witness.
“We will begin to examine evidence bearing on what President Trump and members of the White House staff knew about the prospect for violence on Jan. 6 even before that violence began,” said Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the vice chairwoman of the panel.
Among the revelations the committee presented on Tuesday:
Ms. Hutchinson said Mr. Trump demanded that his supporters be able to move around freely even though they were armed, testifying that she was “in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, ‘You know, I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f-ing mags away.’”
Ms. Hutchinson testified that Mr. Meadows was worried as early as Jan. 2 that Mr. Trump’s rally could get out of control. “Things might get, real, real bad on Jan. 6,” she said Mr. Meadows told her.
She said Anthony M. Ornato, the former White House chief of operations, warned Mr. Meadows on Jan. 6 that the crowd seemed ready for violence, and had knives, guns, bear spray, body armor, spears and flagpoles. She said Mr. Meadows did not look up from his phone, but asked Mr. Ornato whether he had informed Mr. Trump, which Mr. Ornato said he had.
“He almost had a lack of reaction,” Ms. Hutchinson testified of Mr. Meadows’ reaction to the mob attacking the Capitol.
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