Cassidy Hutchinson exposes Trump’s role in the Jan 6 violence
Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified on Tuesday at the Jan. 6 committee's surprise hearing that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was aware of the risk of violence on Jan. 6 in the days leading up to the attack.
Driving the news: Hutchinson, who was Meadows' most trusted aide, has been a crucial witness for the committee, offering an inside account of the West Wing in the days leading up to, on and in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
- Given her proximity to the chief of staff and her access to the inner workings of the White House, she had an extraordinary view into the events on Jan. 6, possibly including closed-door conversations and paper trails most staff were unaware of.
- Her planned testimony was first reported by Punchbowl News.
The big picture: Hutchinson also testified that Trump was aware that some of the rallygoers had weapons but he requested that the metal detectors to enter the Ellipse be removed anyways.
- She also testified that Trump lunged at his security detail when he learned he would not be taken to the Capitol during Jan. 6.
The other side: "I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and “leaker”)," Trump wrote in a Truth Social post on Tuesday.
- "When she requested to go with certain others of the team to Florida after my having served a full term in office, I personally turned her request down," he added.
- "Why did she want to go with us if she felt we were so terrible? I understand that she was very upset and angry that I didn’t want her to go, or be a member of the team. She is bad news!”
- However, former acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tweeted that Hutchinson's testimony was "explosive stuff". "If Cassidy is making this up, they will need to say that. If she isn't they will have to corroborate," he said of her critics. "I know her. I don't think she is lying."
Why it matters: Hutchinson may be the most dangerous witness for Trump so far because, unlike many others who had paramount access to the former president, she is not directly or indirectly on the Trump payroll.
- Hutchinson doesn't depend on Trump to sign on political candidates as clients, nor does she work for a Trump-affiliated firm or think tank.
- Hutchinson told the committee she was present when Meadows described hearing Trump's positive reaction to the Capitol rioters calling for then-Vice President Mike Pence to be hanged.
- A pre-taped video of Hutchinson from her deposition with the committee was also shown at the panel's last hearing, during which she testified that six House Republicans lawmakers who worked to reject the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6 sought pardons following the attack.
Between the lines: Hutchinson's switch of lawyers while being investigated by the committee — from Trump-aligned lawyer Stefan Passantino to former Justice Department official Jody Hunt — signaled she was no longer attached to Trumpworld.
What we know: Recent reports have detailed that Meadows burned papers in his fireplace following the Jan. 6 riot.
- The committee has been interested in knowing what those documents contained and what else Hutchinson heard and saw during those final days as Trump plotted to overturn the 2020 election.
- Hutchinson already appeared for multiple closed-door depositions, so the committee already knows how valuable her testimony is.
- The decision to bring Hutchinson before the panel for a formal hearing shows they believe the material she offers warrants upending their carefully crafted schedule to have her speak publicly in a highly televised setting.