Cassidy Hutchinson, a 25-year-old former White House staffer, gave a detailed account of the role allegedly played by former US President Donald Trump during the January 6, 2021 riots at the US Capitol.
On June 28, Hutchinson appeared before a congressional select committee set up to investigate the events that unfolded when Trump and his supporters claimed the 2020 U.S. presidential election was “stolen” from him.
The January 6 event was the first of its kind in the country’s history, when the transfer of power after presidential elections was contested by a candidate, also a former president.
Hutchinson’s testimony, given that she was on Trump’s staff, supports the belief that Trump was aware of what his supporters were up to and may have encouraged him. More than 535 people who entered the Capitol were arrested on charges including assaulting police officers and trespassing. Five people died in the ensuing violence.
Who is Cassidy Hutchinson and what did she say?
Hutchinson was the senior aide to Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff – the person who manages the US president’s daily schedule and helps coordinate with other executives. She had previously interned at the White House.
According to the Washington Post, Hutchinson heard concerns from senior administration officials about plans for a massive rally near the Capitol on Jan. 6. She claimed officials working with Trump were aware of reports that protesters may be armed.
Hutchinson was present at a Trump rally at The Ellipse, a garden south of the White House, which had taken place earlier that evening. At the rally, Hutchinson said he repeated claims that the election results were fraudulent, prompting the crowd of supporters to march toward the Capitol.
She alleged that Anthony M Ornato, White House deputy chief of staff, told her that Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the vehicle he was in when he was told he couldn’t drive. to the Capitol to join his supporters, The New York Times reported. Ornato told him that the president “ran into” his senior Secret Service agent, Robert Engel, Hutchinson testified. Some media, however, said that Ornato and Engel could testify that Hutchinson’s account is false.
Even so, former White House officials who worked with her told the Washington Post that she was a “star witness” because of the extraordinary access she had to what was happening near the president, as well than his “uncommon courage” to come out and testify.
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What did Trump say about Hutchinson?
Trump claimed he didn’t know Hutchinson well and called her “bad news” and her account “fake.” He took issue with allowing an armed crowd to participate in the rally on Truth Social, a social media platform he launched in 2021.
As his supporters marched to the Capitol building, Trump tweeted, “These are the things and events that happen when a landslide sacred election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped of great patriots who have been wronged and unfairly treated for so long.”
“Go home with love and in peace. Remember this day forever!” He said.
Twitter suspended Trump’s account soon after “due to the risk of further incitement to violence.” A few days later, Trump said in a televised address, “I want to be very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence we have seen over the past week… Violence and vandalism have absolutely no place in our country.
What will the January 6 committee do?
The committee, whose members mostly belong to Joe Biden’s Democratic Party, wants to examine all events related to the violence. This includes investigating why the United States Capitol Police and other security agencies were unable to defend themselves against the riot. The role of tech companies and online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, in addition to smaller, more right-wing platforms, is also being investigated for allegedly helping the rioters network.
The House will then vote to send the committee’s recommendations to the Justice Department, which will then decide whether or not to charge those charged. President Biden has said he wants the Justice Department to press charges, but Attorney General Merrick Garland has so far not come out in favor of a particular course of action.