Aides Dissuaded Trump From Making Jan. 6 So Much Worse

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Cassidy Hutchinson, a top former aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, arrives to testify during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrect... WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: Cassidy Hutchinson, a top former aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, arrives to testify during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection in the Cannon House Office Building on June 28, 2022 in Washington, DC. The bipartisan committee, which has been gathering evidence for almost a year related to the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, is presenting its findings in a series of televised hearings. On January 6, 2021, supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol Building during an attempt to disrupt a congressional vote to confirm the electoral college win for President Joe Biden. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images) MORE LESS

Cassidy Hutchinson made one thing very clear in her testimony.

Were it not for civil servants, lawyers, and longtime federal employees, former President Trump would have made Jan. 6 far, far worse.

Hutchinson described in detail her time in the White House as Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ point person, including multiple instances leading up to and on Jan. 6 when Trump wanted to get closer to the violent action of the day.

It was part of a pattern where officials would block or dissuade Trump from acting on his natural impulses. Sometimes, that took the form of pushing Trump to act when he would not. Hutchinson described the efforts, for example, to have Trump denounce the violence in a video.

The main instance that Hutchinson covered, however, concerns Trump’s attempt to attend the insurrection that he ended up egging on from afar.

It began in the days before Jan. 6, Hutchinson said, recounting a Jan. 3 conversation with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

Cipollone, Hutchinson said, knew that Meadows had mentioned Trump “going up to the Capitol on Jan. 6.”

“Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of, ‘please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol. Keep in touch with me,” Hutchinson recalled. “We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.”

Cipollone, Hutchinson said, worked to persuade Trump and those around him not to let the walk go forward.

He listed a set of crimes that Trump and others might commit if he went forward with the plan to go to the Capitol: inciting a riot, obstruction of justice, defrauding the electoral count.

During Trump’s speech on the Ellipse itself, others found themselves in the position of trying — and failing — to contain the President.

Eric Herschmann, another White House lawyer, purportedly warned Hutchinson that Trump would be exposing himself to “legal concerns” if he used “fight” language and phrases during the speech.

That concern was not heeded. Neither was advice that he not mention in the speech the idea of marching on the Capitol with his supporters.

That, in turn, incensed Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who purportedly told Hutchinson to get it under control.

“You told me this whole week you aren’t coming up here. Why would you lie to me?” Hutchinson recalled McCarthy saying.

She replied that she hadn’t lied; that the plan was still to stop Trump from going to the Capitol.

 “And he said, ‘well, he just said it on stage, Cassidy,'” Hutchinson recalled McCarthy saying. “‘Figure it out. Don’t come up here.'”

In the end, Hutchinson said, it fell not to political appointees like Meadows or to high-powered attorneys like Herschmann and Cipollone to restrain Trump, but rather to Bobby Engel, a Secret Service Special Agent in his security detail.

As Trump drove in a Secret Service SUV away from the Ellipse, Hutchinson was told by Secret Service agents that Trump grabbed at Engel, who was driving, in a failed bid to gain control of the steering wheel.

“I’m the f-ing president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Trump said, per Hutchinson’s testimony, while grabbing for the steering wheel.

“Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing,” Engel replied, according to Hutchinson.

Trump then lunged at Engel, Hutchinson said.

She added that the agent who told her the story “motioned toward his clavicle” when describing where Trump was grabbing.

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