It’s a dizzying reality unfolding in split-screen mode as the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riot warns of the dangers of voter-rigging lies while election-deniers seek political nominations across the country conquer.
Trump card is said to have pounced on Secret Service agents after Ellipse’s speech. Hutchinson testified that a White House official, Tony Ornato, reported Trump’s yelling: “I’m the damn President. Now take me to the Capitol.” after his speech on January 6th. Trump then “reached forward of the vehicle to grab the steering wheel,” Hutchinson remembered studying.
She added that according to Ornato, Trump used his other hand to “lunge” with Robert Engel, who was the responsible secret service agent that day.
After the testimony, a Secret Service official familiar with the matter told CNN Ornato denied telling Hutchinson that the former president took the wheel or an agent at his command.
Intelligence told the committee through the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Legislative Affairs Tuesday afternoon that it would make the agents involved available to testify under oath, the official said. The agents are ready to declare under oath that the incident itself did not happen.
Apathy towards supporters with guns. “I heard the President say something like, ‘I don’t give a damn that they have guns. You’re not here to hurt me’.” Hutchinson said in pre-recorded testimony aired Tuesday. She said she heard Trump calling for metal detectors to be removed.
“Take away the shitty magazines. Let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here. Let people in, take away the shit magazines.”
The White House expected chaos. On January 2, 2021, Hutchinson said that Meadows “scrolled through his phone; I remember leaning against the door and saying, ‘I just had an interesting conversation with Rudy, Mark. Sounds like we’re going to the Capitol.’ He didn’t look up from his phone and said something along the lines of, ‘It’s busy Cass, but I don’t know, January 6th could be really, really bad.'”
She added: “That evening was the first moment I remember feeling scared and nervous about what might happen on January 6th.”
Days before the uprising, Rudy Giuliani previewed the plans. “Cass, are you looking forward to the 6th? It’s gonna be a great day. … We’re going to the Capitol. It is going to be great. The President will be there, it will look mighty.” Giuliani said, according to Hutchinson.
Now consider the 2022 primaries up to this point
The next critical measure of Republican tolerance for election denial came Tuesday night.
Anderson, who will face Democratic incumbent Jena Griswold in November, received endorsements from current and former elected officials, including three former foreign ministers.
Even in the illogical world of conscientious objection, Peters was a remarkable figure.
Peters has also repeatedly allied himself with far-right figures who have peddled Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud. She appeared at the “Cyber Symposium,” a gathering of election deniers last year that peddled a variety of debunked conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, and in Colorado with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
Can anything break the noise of election denial?
The task is high. But if there’s anything from the Jan. 6 hearings so far that might resonate with Trump loyalists who subscribe to his electoral lies, it might be testimonies like Hutchinson’s.
Far from being a Trump critic, Hutchinson worked in the White House in close proximity to the then-president as he challenged the 2020 election — something that lends her report unique credibility.
Trump attempted to take Hutchinson’s testimony as revenge on Tuesday, claiming she was “very upset and angry that I didn’t want her” to join his staffers at his Palm Beach residence after the presidency. But those around the former president had very different takeaways.
- “This paints a picture of Trump completely out of control and losing all control of what they see for his base as someone in command at all times. This completely contradicts‘ said a Trump aide.
- “This is basically a commercial for (Florida Gov.) Ron DeSantis 2024.” another Trump ally told CNN.
- “Anyone who downplays Cassidy Hutchinson’s role or her access to the West Wing either doesn’t understand how the Trump does [White House] worked or tried to discredit them because they are afraid of how scathing that statement is,” Former White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Matthews tweeted.
Whether Republican voters will react in a similar way remains to be seen. But it’s hard to think of a more compelling rebuke of electoral denial than the one presented Tuesday by the January 6 committee.
This story was updated with additional coverage Tuesday.
CNN’s Josh Campbell, Gabby Orr, and Eric Bradner contributed to this report.