White House Insider Confirms Trump Did Not Want to Stop Violence, Said Pence Deserved to Be Hung  

The sixth public hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol featured explosive testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, the top aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

The sixth public hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol featured explosive testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, the top aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. 

Testifying live in front of the House Jan. 6 select committee, Hutchinson revealed that the White House knew about the threat of violence ahead of Jan. 6, that former President Donald Trump knew that rallygoers were armed and sent them to the Capitol anyways, and that an unhinged Trump said former Vice President Mike Pence deserved to be hung.

Here are some toplines from day six of the Jan. 6 hearings. 

Trump and Meadows knew there was a significant threat of violence on Jan. 6.

The White House received reports from the DOJ, the Secret Service, and the Capitol Police about the potential for violence on Jan. 6, investigators found. Just three days before the attack, the Capitol Police issued a special event assessment, noting that the Proud Boys and other groups planned to be in Washington, D.C., and indicated that “Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

Meadows was well aware of the potential for violence on Jan. 6. Hutchinson relayed that after a meeting between Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and Meadows on Jan. 2, Giuliani told Hutchinson to be excited for Jan. 6 and that Trump and others were going to go to the Capitol. When Hutchinson relayed that conversation to Meadows and asked what Giuliani was talking about, she said Meadows told her, “There is a lot going on, Cass, but I don’t know, things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6.”

That became quickly apparent on Jan. 6. Around 10 a.m. that day, Tony Ornoto, the deputy chief of staff who acted as the liaison between the Secret Service and White House staff, learned that some supporters had weapons, including bear spray, knives, guns, body armor, spears, and flag poles. With Hutchinson in the room, Ornoto provided Meadows a “brief, but thorough explanation” of the weapons and people outside. 

“I remember distinctly Mark not looking up from, from his phone,” Hutchinson testified. “I remember Tony finishing the explanation and it taking a few seconds for Mark to say something. I almost said, ‘Mark did you hear him?’ And then Mark said, ‘Anything else?’ still looking down at his phone.”

“I said, ‘Sir, he just told you what is happening at the rally,’” Hutchinson testified. “And he said, ‘Yeah, yeah, I know.’ And then he looked up and said, ‘Have you talked to the president?’ And Tony said, ‘Yes, sir. He is aware, too.’ He said, ‘Alright, good.’” 

Trump was told Jan. 6 rallygoers were armed. He ordered them to the Capitol anyway

“The select committee has learned that people who willingly entered the area for President Trump’s speech were screened so they could attend the rally at the Ellipse,” Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney said. “They had weapons and other items that were confiscated—pepper spray, knives, brass knuckles, tasers, body armor, gas masks, batons, blunt weapons.” 

Several thousand others refused to go through the magnetometers—which would identify such weapons and lead to their confiscation—to enter the rally area. Some in that crowd outside remained heavily armed, with police reporting men in a tree with “glock-style pistols in their waistbands” and “three men walking down the street in fatigues carrying AR-15s at 14th and Independence.” 

When Trump saw the large crowd outside the perimeter of the rally, he was furious. He wanted the arena to be full. Hutchinson said that Ornoto had explained to Trump that the crowd outside had weapons they didn’t want confiscated by the Secret Service and that they wanted to march directly to the Capitol.

But Trump “was angry that we weren’t letting people through the [magnetometers] with weapons,” Hutchinson said. She heard Trump say something to the effect of “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 from the Capitol from here.”

Trump proceeded to give his speech and told his supporters he would march with them to the Capitol, even though he knew people in the crowd were armed. 

“Now, it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. And after this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you,” Trump told the crowd in the Ellipse. “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.”

Trump dispatched his supporters to the Capitol despite his counsels’ warning that they could violate the law by marching to the Capitol. Hutchinson told the committee that White House counsel Pat Cipollone had warned against Trump going to the Capitol for fear that they could be charged with obstructing Congress, defrauding the electoral count vote, or inciting a riot.

Trump wanted to go to the Capitol so badly that he grabbed the steering wheel and lunged at his Secret Service agent. 

Hutchinson said that when she got back to the White House after Trump’s Ellipse speech, Ornoto pulled her aside with Bobby Engel, the head of Trump’s Secret Service detail. Ornoto relayed the story of what happened when Trump got into the presidential limousine. 

Trump was under the impression that he could go to the Capitol, but Engel told him that it wasn’t secure and that they couldn’t go. 

“I’m the f-ing president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Trump reportedly told Engel. 

“The president reached up to the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel,” Hutchinson said. “Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel, we are going back to the West Wing. We are not going to the Capitol.’ Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel. When Mr. Ornoto recounted the story toward me, he motioned to his clavicle.”

Engel, who was in the room as Ornoto relayed what transpired, did not disagree with any part of the story. 

Trump asked Meadows to get in touch with Roger Stone and Mike Flynn. 

The night before Jan. 6, Trump instructed Meadows to contact both Roger Stone and Mike Flynn “regarding what would play out the next day,” Cheney said. 

Asked whether that call happened, Hutchinson said, “I’m under the impression that Mr. Meadows did complete both a call to Mr. Stone and General Flynn on the evening on the fifth.”

Both Stone and Flynn have connections to the Oath Keepers, an anti-government extremist group whose members stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. On Jan. 5 and 6, Stone was photographed with multiple members of the Oath Keepers as they provided security to him. Since then, 11 members of the Oath Keepers have been charged with seditious conspiracy for their effort to overturn the election—three have pleaded guilty. 

Flynn—who prior to Jan. 6 had advocated for Trump to declare martial law—has since appeared before the committee and pleaded the Fifth. When Cheney asked, “General Flynn, do you believe the violence on Jan. 6 was justified?” he replied, “I said the Fifth.” When she asked, “General Flynn, do you believe in the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America?” Flynn replied, “The Fifth.”

Both Flynn and Stone spent time ahead of Jan. 6 at the Willard Hotel, where Rudy Giuliani set up a command post dubbed the “war room” with Bernard B. Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner, and John Eastman, Trump lawyer and coup memo author. Stephen K. Bannon—who has since been indicted in contempt of Congress stemming from his failure to comply with a subpoena—was also in attendance at some meetings.

Meadows had originally planned to attend these meetings in-person but dialed in instead, Hutchinson testified.

“Mr. Meadows had a conversation with me, where he wanted me to work with the Secret Service on movement from the White House to the Willard Hotel so he could attend the meeting or meetings with Mr. Giuliani and his associates in the war room,” she said. “He said he would dial in instead.” 

Rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence.” Trump thought Pence deserved it. 

Shortly after rioters broke into the Capitol, White House counsel Pat Cipollone came to find Meadows. 

“The rioters got into the Capitol, Mark, we got to get in to see the president now,” Hutchinson said Cipollone told Meadows. 

“And Mark looked up at him and said, ‘He doesn’t want to do anything, Pat,’” Hutchinson testified. “And Pat said something to the effect of …  ‘Mark, something needs to be done or people are going to die, and blood is going to be on your f-ing hands. This is getting out of control, I’m getting down there.”

At that point, Meadows stood up and joined Cipollone in the Oval Office dining room. Later, Cipollone and Meadows came back toward Hutchinson’s and Meadows’ offices. 

“I remember Pat saying something to the effect of, ‘Mark, we need to do something more, they’re literally calling for the vice president to be f-ing hung,’” Hutchinson testified. “And Mark had responded something to the effect, ‘You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.’”

Instead of calling off his supporters, Trump sent a tweet out at 2:24 p.m. condemning Pence. “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what was necessary,” he wrote.

About six weeks after Trump left the White House, Trump spoke to ABC’s John Karl. Asked about the “Hang Mike Pence” chants, Trump failed to denounce his supporters and defended them.

Team Trump is attempting to influence witness testimony. 

Closing out her remarks, Cheney said that allies of the president had reached out to witnesses in an attempt to tamper with their testimony to the select committee.

Without identifying those involved, Cheney presented one witness statement. It read: “What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that I’m on the team, I’m doing the right thing, I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World. And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts and just to keep that in mind as I proceed through my depositions and interview with the committee.”

She also presented a message to another witness. “[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”

Committee Chair Bennie Thompson highlighted Hutchinson’s courage and called on those who have failed to cooperate with the committee to come forward. 

“To the small number who have defied us outright, those whose memories have failed them again and again on the most important details, and to those who fear Donald Trump and his enablers, because of this courageous woman and others like her, your attempt to hide the truth will fail,” Thompson said.

“To that group of witnesses, if you heard this testimony today and you remember things you could previously not recall, or there are some details you would like to clarify, or you discover some courage you had hidden away, our doors remain open,” he concluded.

The Jan. 6 hearings are expected to resume the week of July 11.