The January 6th Select Committee’s sixth public hearing on Tuesday featured explosive testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows. She provided damning evidence that President Trump knew many of his supporters were armed, yet wanted and still urged the march to the Capitol. The hearing provided further proof that Trump’s final moves in his effort to overturn the election were, like those leading up to January 6, likely criminal. The evidence is detailed in the sixth edition of our criminal evidence tracker (available below and as a PDF).
Hutchinson was the committee’s only live witness on Tuesday, and the only live witness so far who was in the West Wing on January 6th. She served as Meadows’ principal aide during the last few months of the Trump administration and as a special assistant to the president. That is a commissioned, senior White House rank. Before joining the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, Hutchinson worked for House Republican Whip Steve Scalise and Senator Ted Cruz.
Hutchinson was personally present at several key moments before, on, and after January 6, and was involved in numerous conversations, phone calls, and texts with Meadows, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Tony Ornato, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, other senior White House staff, members of Congress, Rudy Giuliani, and others. The committee showed excerpts of Hutchison’s four videotaped interviews, video from other White House officials’ depositions and interviews, and critical texts, emails, notes, and memos.
Hutchinson began by testifying that Trump and his closest advisors knew before January 6 not only that Trump planned to go to the Capitol himself after his speech at the Ellipse, but that the White House was aware that violence was likely. Hutchinson recounted that, as Rudy Giuliani was leaving the White House on January 2, he told her that Trump was planning to go to the Capitol and that Meadows knew about it. Meadows warned Hutchinson “things might get real, real bad on January 6th,” Hutchinson said.
Trump learned on the morning of January 6 that people in the crowd gathering on the Ellipse were armed with weapons, Hutchinson testified. Ornato, who was responsible for White House security, told Meadows around 10 a.m. about people carrying weapons including “knives, guns in the form of pistols and rifles, bear spray, body armor, spears, and flagpoles.” Meadows asked if Ornato had talked to the president, “and Tony said, ‘Yes, sir. He’s aware,’” Hutchinson recounted. Vice Chair Cheney confirmed with Hutchinson that Ornato relayed to her he had told Trump about weapons at the rally on January 6. According to Cheney and audio from police and the Secret Service communications, those weapons included AR-15s and pistols.
Trump’s reaction to seeing the crowd on the Ellipse where he was to give his speech further confirmed his knowledge of the weapons present that day, and his disdain for the safety of anyone but himself. As is normal protocol, the Secret Service screened those attendees nearest to the president with magnetometers (mags), confiscating any weapons. Waiting near Trump in the tent, Hutchinson said she heard him say “something to the effect of… ‘I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here.’”
Despite knowing of the threat of violence and the armed crowd, in his speech Trump nevertheless encouraged supporters to march to the Capitol. And he said he would go with them. Hutchinson testified that in working on the draft speech, Trump’s language created legal concerns for the White House counsel’s office and White House lawyer Eric Herschmann, and that Cipollone was highly alarmed at Trump’s plan to actually go to the Capitol himself. Both before January 6 and on that morning, Hutchinson recounted, Cipollone told her to make sure that Trump didn’t go. “We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen,” Cipollone told her. In fact, during her testimony Hutchinson revealed that, the crimes of concern to Cipollone included “ potentially obstructing justice or defrauding the electoral count.” She said Cipollone “was also worried that it would look like we were inciting a riot or encouraging a riot to erupt on the Capitol” indicating that Trump’s team, and possibly Trump if he was briefed on that concern, were fully aware of the criminal implications. The evidence Trump may have committed some of the very crimes apparently discussed by people in Trump’s inner circle is detailed in the sixth edition of our criminal evidence tracker.
Trump pushed to join the march to the Capitol by foot or drive there. In video excerpts of their depositions, Trump aides Nick Luna and Max Miller confirmed Trump told them he wanted to accompany rally attendees to the Capitol. The Secret Service, however, refused to let him make the “off the record” movement because there were not enough security assets in place to protect him. Even after the motorcade returned to the White House, Trump still wanted to go to the Capitol, Kayleigh McEnany said in a videotaped deposition and as she had written in her personal notes.
Hutchinson’s testimony also demonstrated that despite knowing the mob at the Capitol had turned violent Trump still tweeted at 2:24 p.m. that Pence “didn’t have the courage” to refuse to certify the election. While bringing Meadows his phone outside the Oval Office dining room, Hutchinson heard discussion about the “hang Mike Pence” chants. Later, when Cipollone urged Meadows to have Trump do more to stop the violence, Hutchinson said Meadows said something to the effect of: “You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they [the rioters] are doing anything wrong.”
Hutchinson’s testimony concluded with her reporting that both Giuliani and Meadows indicated they wanted to receive pardons from Trump for their conduct related to January 6.
Vice Chair Cheney ended the hearing by providing evidence of potential witness tampering by Trump allies. The committee asked witnesses connected to the Trump administration or campaign if they had been contacted by any former colleagues, or if anyone had tried to influence their testimony. One unidentified witness described phone calls from people interested in their testimony telling the witness: “As long as I continue to be a team player, they know I’m on the right team. I’m doing the right thing. I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World.” Another witness described receiving a call saying: “He wants me to let you know he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.”
Tuesday’s hearing offered gripping evidence that Trump and some of his closest advisors had the criminal intent to obstruct the counting of the electoral votes on January 6. They knew that violence was highly likely when Trump urged his supporters to march to the Capitol and intended to go with them to pressure Pence and Congress and inflame the mob. The criminality of Trump’s plans was obvious – White House lawyers repeatedly warned about it. And Trump’s closest advisors acknowledged their own criminal exposure by seeking preemptive pardons. The hearing also provided evidence of more potential crimes, including incitement, seditious conspiracy, and witness tampering.
We will continue to update our charts after future hearings. The current editions are provided below and as a separate PDF.
Readers may also be interested in synopses that accompanied each of the earlier editions following those public hearings, including: the initial introduction as well as introductions to the second, third, fourth, and fifth updates.