Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide in the White House under chief of staff Mark Meadows, this week gave what many people in Washington termed a “bombshell” testimony to the House’s special committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.
She told many stories that painted former President Donald Trump in an unpleasant light, and would make any person believe he was unhinged and unstable to hold office.
One of those stories that Hutchinson recalled wasn’t first-hand knowledge for her. It was told to her by Tony Ornato, the president’s former deputy chief of staff for operations.
As she told the story to the committee during her testimony Tuesday, Hutchinson said that, following the speech he gave to supporters at the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally, Trump was adamant that he join the rioters at the U.S. Capitol building.
Secret Service members were driving him in the presidential limousine, which was known as “The Beast.” When Trump’s demands to be taken to the Capitol weren’t met, Hutchinson said he grabbed yelled at the driver and even reached up and grabbed the wheel in an attempt to steer it where he wanted it to go.
It’s a rather stunning story and one that Trump himself says is outrageous and a “fake story.” Responding on social media this week, the former president wrote:
“Wouldn’t even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing.”
Hutchinson testified about a lot of the actions taken by Trump before, during and after January 6. Her appearance before the committee was called hastily and was broadcast on TV for everyone to see. It marks the most inflammatory statements thus far in the multiple public hearings the committee has held.
There were many details provided by Hutchinson that she either overheard first-hand while in the West Wing of the White House or that she heard from other people such as Ornato later on.
Ornato currently serves as the assistant director for the Secret Service’s Office of Training.
Hutchinson testified this week that while Trump was in “The Beast,” he told the security detail with Secret Service:
“The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the f***ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now.’”
Hutchinson said Trump then lunged toward the steering wheel, according to Ornator’s story. In addition to trying to grab the steering wheel, she said Trump “used his free hand” to then lunge at the Secret Service members.
“When Mr. Ornato had recounted this story for me, he had motioned towards his clavicle.”
Members of the House committee on the panel, as well as many other Democrats, are using Hutchinson’s testimony as proof that Trump was unhinged and posed a significant threat to the American democracy.
Part of the issue with her testimony, though, is that Hutchinson wasn’t present to actually witness this. Instead, she is relying on heresay that Secret Service members apparently told to Ornato, who told it to her. Not exactly the most reliable of sources of information.