Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that then-President Donald Trump knew attendees of his Jan. 6, 2021, rally had weapons but didn’t care that they were armed, saying they weren’t going to hurt him and he wanted a larger crowd.
In a Tuesday afternoon hearing in front of the panel investigating the Capitol violence of Jan. 6, Hutchinson said that Trump had called for the metal detectors being used to screen individuals by Secret Service agents to be removed so they could carry their weapons with them.
“When we were in the offstage tent, I was part of a conversation, I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, ‘I don’t effing care if they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me, take the effing mags [magnetometers] away, let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in, take the effing mags away,’” Hutchinson said in a prerecorded deposition.
“One of the reasons ... is he wanted it to be full and for people to not feel excluded because they’d come far to watch him at the rally and he felt the mags were at fault for not letting everybody in,” Hutchinson added. “Another leading reason, likely the primary reason, is because he wanted it full and he was angry we weren’t letting people through the mags with weapons, what the Secret Service had deemed as weapons and are weapons.”
Hutchinson said staff had attempted to explain to the president that “everyone who had wanted to come in had already come in, but he was still angry about the extra space and wanted more people to come in.”
“They don’t want to come in right now,” Hutchinson said they explained to the president. “They have weapons they don’t want confiscated by the Secret Service. They’re fine on the Mall, they can see you on the Mall, they want to march to the Capitol from the Mall.”
Trump denied Hutchinson’s testimony in a statement, writing, “Never complained about the crowd, it was massive. I didn’t want or request that we make room for people with guns to watch my speech. Who would ever want that? Not me!”
Hutchinson said that her boss, then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, did not act on the concerns for potential violence on Jan. 6 despite the fact that deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato raised them to him. She said she was “scared” about the initial plans for Trump to go to the Capitol and recounted a Jan. 2 meeting with the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
“As Mr. Giuliani and I were walking to his vehicle that evening, he looked at me and said something to the effect of, ‘Gosh, are you excited for the 6th? It’s going to be a great day.’ And I remember saying, ‘Rudy, can you explain what’s happening on the 6th?’” Hutchinson testified. “He responded something to the effect of, ‘We’re going to the Capitol. It’s going to be great. The president is going to be there, he’s going to look powerful. He’s going to be with the members. He’s going to be with the senators. Talk to the chief about it, talk to the chief about it. He knows about it.’”
Hutchinson continued her testimony, saying she then returned to the West Wing and asked Meadows about Giuliani’s comments.
“I just had an interesting conversation with Rudy, Mark. Sounds like we’re going to go to the Capitol,” she told Meadows. “He didn’t look up from his phone and said something to the effect of, ‘There’s a lot going on, Cass, but I don’t know, things might get real, real bad on January 6th.”