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After the testimony of a White House aide who not many people in the United States ever heard of, major parts of her testimony were rebuffed by those with the knowledge of what actually happened.
Much of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony was hearsay, second hand information that she heard from someone else but did not witness herself.
One of the most spectacular parts of her testimony came when she accused former President Donald trump of grabbing for the steering wheel of the presidential limo after being told that he could not go to the Capitol on January 6, 2020 and then grabbing for the throat of Secret Service agent Bobby Engel.
But within hours of her testimony Engel said that the incident she spoke of never happened, The Associated Press reported.
“The former aide said that she was told of the altercation in the SUV immediately afterward by a White House security official, and that Bobby Engel, the head of the detail, was in the room and didn’t dispute the account at the time. Engel had grabbed Trump’s arm to prevent him from gaining control of the armored vehicle, she was told, and Trump then used his free hand to lunge at Engel,” The AP said.
“That account was quickly disputed on Tuesday, however. Engel, the agent who was driving the presidential SUV, and Trump security official Tony Ornato are willing to testify under oath that no agent was assaulted and Trump never lunged for the steering wheel, a person familiar with the matter said. The person would not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity,” The AP said.
Engel and Ornato have both testified to the committee behind closed doors, but their statements were not used in the hearing Tuesday.
After the testimony, a Secret Service official familiar with the matter told CNN that Ornato denies telling Hutchinson that the former President grabbed the wheel or an agent on his detail.
The Secret Service, through the Department of Homeland Security Office of Legislative Affairs, notified the committee Tuesday afternoon that it will make the agents involved available to testify under oath, the official said. The agents are also prepared to say under oath that the incident itself did not occur.
The lead agent, Engel, previously testified before the committee and described the interactions with Trump on January 6, including the former President’s desire to travel to the Capitol, but he was not asked about an altercation or being assaulted, the official said.
A spokesman for the House January 6 Committee said, “The committee trusts the creditability of a witness who is willing to testify under oath and in public but is also willing to hear any and all information that others may have that would aid in their investigation.”
And former Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said that another part of Hutchinson’s testimony, that she penned a note for the former president to read on January 6, was done by him and not her, ABC News reported.
“The handwritten note that Cassidy Hutchinson testified was written by her was in fact written by Eric Herschmann on January 6, 2021,” a spokesperson for Herschmann said.
“All sources with direct knowledge and law enforcement have and will confirm that it was written by Mr. Herschmann,” they said.
But Hutchinson said during Tuesday’s hearing that, “That’s a note that I wrote at the direction of the chief of staff on Jan. 6, likely around 3 o’clock.”
“And it’s written on the chief of staff note card, but that’s your handwriting, Ms. Hutchinson?” Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney said.
“That’s my handwriting,” the witness said.
“The committee has done its diligence on this and found Ms. Hutchinson’s account of this matter credible. While we understand that she and Mr. Herschmann may have differing recollections of who wrote the note, what’s ultimately important is that both White House officials believed that the President should have immediately instructed his supporters to leave the Capitol building,” a spokesperson for the committee said.
“The note memorialized this,” they said. “But Mr. Trump did not take that action at the time.”