Former U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally, in Conroe, Texas, U.S., January 29, 2022.
Go Nakamura | Reuters
Former President Donald Trump lunged at a Secret Service agent in a rage in the presidential limousine when told he could not be taken to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a former White House aide testified Tuesday.
“I’m the ‘effing’ president, take me up to the Capitol now!” Trump insisted, according to the aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, describing what she was told had happened in the limo that day by another White House aide, Tony Ornato.
Trump also grabbed the steering wheel of the limo in a fury after learning he would not be taken there, Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson, who served as a top aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, revealed the dramatic incident for the first time at an abruptly scheduled hearing of the select House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Trump wanted to go to the Capitol that day after speaking at a rally outside of the White House to supporters, whom he urged to march with him to Congress and “fight” against the ongoing confirmation of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
But White House lawyers were strongly opposed to Trump doing so, fearing that it could lead to charges of inciting a riot or interfering with the Electoral College certification process.
Pat Cipollone, who at the time was White House counsel, warned staff “we’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable” if Trump went to Capitol, Hutchinson testified.
But she said that when Trump ended his rally he was still under the impression from Meadows that it was still possible for him to go to the Capitol and likely to happen.
Trump then got into the presidential limo, known as “The Beast,” with Secret Service Special Agent Bobby Engel, the head of the president’s protective detail.
Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows during the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, demonstrates Trump’s actions inside the presidential limousine on January 6 as she testifies during a public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee to investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 28, 2022.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
“So once the President had gotten into the vehicle with Bobby, he thought that they were going up to the Capitol, and when Bobby had relayed to him, we’re not you don’t have the assets to do it,” said Hutchinson, citing what Ornato later told her.
Engel told Trump, ” ‘It’s not secure. We’re going back to the West Wing,’ ” Hutchinson said.
“The president had a very strong, very angry response to that. Tony described him as being irate,” she testified.
Trump said something like, ” ‘I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now!’ ” she testified.
When Engel then refused again, Trump “reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel,” she said. “Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing.’ “
Trump “then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson testified.
When Onato told Hutchinson this, he motioned his hands toward his clavicle, she said.
Hutchinson also testified that when she saw Engel sitting in the White House after the incident, he looked “somewhat discombobulated” and “lost.”
Trump later Tuesday denied Hutchinson’s account and criticized her in a series of posts on his social media site.
“Her Fake story that I tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House Limousine in order to steer it to the Capitol Building is ‘sick’ and fraudulent, very much like the Unselect Committee itself — Wouldn’t even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing,” Trump wrote.