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White House aide testifies Trump knew supporters were armed on day of Capitol riot

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, describes the actions of former US president Donald Trump as she testifies during a House Select Committee hearing to investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

Former US President Donald Trump knew his supporters were armed and threatening violence on January 6, 2021, but encouraged them to march on the Capitol and personally sought to join them before he was stopped by his security detail, according to testimony by a former White House aide.

On Tuesday, Cassidy Hutchinson became the first top aide to the Trump White House to publicly testify before the select House committee investigating the Capitol riot, offering a damning account of the Republican president's actions and those of his inner circle in the lead-up to the deadly assault.

At some point during the attack, a frustrated Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of his presidential limousine to join the protesters, and lunged at a Secret Service agent when he was told he could not be taken to the Capitol, Hutchinson testified.

“I’m the ‘effing’ president, take me up to the Capitol now!” Trump insisted, according to the aide.

Hours before the riot, Trump had addressed his supporters at a rally outside the White House, urging them to march with him to Congress and “fight like hell” to stop the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

Trump's supporters were roused by his now-debunked claims that his 2020 election defeat was the result of massive fraud.

The president dismissed concerns expressed by his lawyers that he could end up facing charges of inciting a riot or interfering with the certification process. “We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable,” Hutchinson recalled White House counsel Pat Cipollone as saying.

“As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic. It was un-American,” she said of Trump’s incitement of the violence. “We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie.”

The president also appeared unperturbed when he was told some of his supporters gathered for his speech outside the White House were carrying AR-15-style rifles. Instead, he directed his security team to stop screening attendees with metal detectors so the crowd would look larger, Hutchinson testified.

Hutchinson also revealed that there was nothing spontaneous about the dramatic events of January 6, telling lawmakers that members of Trump’s inner circle had held a series of meetings earlier in the month to plan for the protests.

She depicted Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, and Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, as being particularly complicit in the riot, suggesting that both had suggested ahead of time that they knew the protests would turn violent.

“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,” Giuliani told Hutchinson on January 2, she testified.

Both had suggested ahead of time that they knew the protests of Jan. 6 would turn violent, she testified, and both of them would later request presidential pardons.

“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,” Giuliani told Hutchinson on Jan. 2, she testified.

Trump denied Hutchinson’s account of his actions. "Her Fake story that I tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House Limousine in order to steer it to the Capitol Building is 'sick' and fraudulent," the former president wrote on Truth Social, his social media app.

Hutchinson's lawyer Jody Hunt wrote on Twitter that she had "testified, under oath, and recounted what she was told. Those with knowledge of the episode also should testify under oath."


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