“You know, 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 to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f-ing mags away,” Trump said on Jan. 6, according to aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony.
Former President Donald Trump knew the crowd at his Jan. 6, 2021, rally was armed and could get violent, yet he wanted security measures removed because he knew they were not there to attack him. In fact, Trump not only wanted his armed supporters to go to the Capitol; he attempted to join them as they sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election by force.
These shocking revelations came out during Tuesday’s House Select Committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, a last-minute hearing centered around testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson. Hutchinson served as a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and had previously worked for top Republicans in Congress.
Hutchinson testified that she was told that Trump was so desperate to join the mob at the Capitol—against the advice of his security detail and attorneys—that he attempted to wrench the steering wheel away from secret service agent Robert Engel and tried to grab Engel’s neck. Engel had advised the president that the situation at the Capitol was unstable and a security risk. But Trump did not care.
“I’m the f-ing president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.
Ultimately, Trump returned to the White House. But Trump’s temper throughout the day was a recurring theme of Hutchinson’s testimony. She spoke about how Trump raged about the presence of magnetometers—which are intended to detect weapons—at his “Stop the Steal” rally and demanded his supporters be let in anyway, not caring that they were armed with guns, knives, and spears.
“You know, 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 to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f-ing mags away,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.
Here are Eight Other Takeaways from Tuesday’s explosive hearing:
1. Top officials in the Trump administration were repeatedly warned of violence ahead of Jan. 6 but did nothing.
In the days leading up to Jan. 6, numerous White House officials, including Meadows, were warned about violence. The Secret Service, national security advisors, and top Justice Department officials had all received information that violence was being planned, that Trump supporters would be armed, and that there could be an invasion of the Capitol.
On Jan. 2, when Hutchinson confronted Meadows about what was going to happen on Jan. 6, he told her that “things might get real, real bad on January 6,” according to her testimony.
2. Trump thought Pence deserved to be hung
Testimony from prior hearings revealed that Trump believed that Mike Pence, his loyal vice president of four years, had betrayed him because Pence refused to embrace the lie that the vice president could overturn the 2020 election results.
On Tuesday, we got firsthand testimony indicating just how angry Trump was at Pence during the Jan. 6 attack.
When rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” White House counsel Pat Cipollone warned Meadows that they needed to do something to get Trump to stop the rioters. According to Hutchinson, Meadows responded that Trump “doesn’t want to do anything,” and “He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.”
Cipollone warned Meadows that people would die and the blood would be on Meadows’ hands, but the chief of staff still refused to act. In that, Meadow was following his boss’s lead: instead of condemning his supporters’ murderous chants, Trump issued a tweet blaming Pence for refusing to overturn the results, which Hutchinson said disgusted her.
“I was really sad. As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic. It was un-American,” she said.
3. Mark Meadows was a Trump lackey who didn’t care about the violence but asked for a pardon
Throughout Hutchinson’s testimony, Meadows was repeatedly depicted as a Trump toady who ignored warnings of violence and did nothing to stop the events of Jan. 6 as they unfolded.
Tony Ornato, the former White House chief of operations, warned Meadows on the morning of Jan. 6 that Trump’s rally crowd was armed with knives, guns, bear spray, body armor, spears and flagpoles. Hutchinson testified that Meadows did not look up from his phone and barely reacted.
This was a recurring theme–that Meadows spent all his time scrolling on his phone and did nothing to prevent or stop the attack on the Capitol.
While Meadows failed to act to stop the violence at the Capitol, he retroactively seemed to recognize that he could be in serious legal trouble. Hutchinson testified that Meadows and Rudy Giuliani both asked for pardons relating to their involvement in the Jan. 6 planning and their efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
4. A group of White House aides wanted to blame ‘Antifa’ for Jan. 6
On the day of Jan. 6, several White House advisors begged Trump to take more action to stop the attack. But another group—which included Meadows, at least initially—wanted to “deflect and blame” Antifa for the attacks, a strategy that was enacted by Trump allies within hours.
5. Top aides were warned that the president going to the Capitol was a bad idea
Prior to Jan. 6, there’d been discussions about Trump going to the Capitol, but the idea was shot down by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who said they could all be put into legal jeopardy if he marched to the Capitol. “We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable,” if he goes to the Capitol, Cipollone said, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.
6. Trump threw regular temper tantrums
In Dec. 2020, former Attorney General Bill Barr told the Associated Press that there was no widespread evidence of voter fraud. This made Trump so angry that he reportedly threw his lunch plate across the room, splattering ketchup on the wall.
Hutchinson testified that this wasn’t a first; she had previously seen him smash dishes in anger.
7. Trump only spoke out after a huge pressure campaign
Trump resisted efforts to persuade him to condemn the violence on Jan. 6, and he released a statement telling supporters to go home only following enormous pressure from aides and allies.
Furthermore, the speech Trump delivered the following day – in which he committed to a smooth transition of power – only came about because he was warned by both administration officials and outside allies that his own cabinet was considering using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
8. Team Trump is intimidating witnesses
The hearing’s final revelation was among its most shocking: Someone (or several someones) in Trump’s orbit seems to be engaging in witness intimidation against those testifying before the House committee.
Rep. Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the committee, addressed the issue, providing screenshots of testimony from witnesses who spoke of the attempted intimidation.
Predictably, Trump issued multiple statements on Tuesday afternoon denying Hutchinson’s testimony and claiming she’s a liar, but her statements appear to be proving persuasive—even to former Trump administration officials.
Follow us for continued coverage of the Jan. 6 hearings.