Robert Engel, head of former President Trump’s Secret Service detail on Jan. 6, discussed Trump’s unsuccessful request to march with his supporters to the Capitol during his testimony to Jan. 6 Select Committee investigators, according to Politico.
Engel reportedly testified to the panel that Trump raised the prospect privately with him, a person familiar with the agent’s congressional testimony told Politico. Engel rode with the then-President in the presidential armored car known as “the Beast” back to the White House, following the infamous “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse that preceded the deadly Capitol insurrection.
In his testimony, Engel reportedly recalled his discussion with Trump about the then-President’s desire to go to the Capitol, according to Politico. Engel testified that he and the President were at odds on the matter. Engel opposed Trump’s request, and testified that they returned to the White House. Trump ultimately did not make an appearance on Capitol Hill.
Politico’s report on Engel’s testimony comes a day after the Washington Post reported on Trump’s weeks-long attempt to pressure the Secret Service to devise a plan for him to join his supporters on a march to the Capitol on Jan. 6.
According to the Post, the Secret Service rejected the then-President’s initial requests. But Trump blindsided the agency on Jan. 6 when he urged his supporters at the “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse to march to the Capitol — and suggested he would join them. Trump’s remarks swiftly prompted the agency to rush to accommodate him in response to his call to action.
Engel’s reported testimony contradicts claimed by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who claimed in his book that the then-President told him right after his speech at the rally that he was “speaking metaphorically” when he suggested that he would march on the Capitol himself.
Trump “knew as well as anyone that we couldn’t organize a trip like that on such short notice,” Meadows wrote in his book, according to The Guardian.
Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi told the Post that the agency is cooperating fully with congressional investigators’ request for information and documents about Secret Service planning for Trump’s movements on Jan. 6.
The committee is reportedly investigating Trump’s efforts to convince the Secret Service to allow him join the march on Jan. 6, according to the Post. Additionally, the panel is investigating whether Trump and his aides played any role in encouraging the Secret Service to remove then-Vice President Mike Pence from the Capitol as a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, targeting Pence and other lawmakers.