JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE HEARING TRANSCRIPT: JUNE 28th, 2022
BENNIE THOMPSON: The Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol will be in order. Without objection, the chair is authorized to declare the committee in recess at any point. Pursuant to House Deposition Authority Regulation 10, the chair announces the committee's approval to release the deposition material presented during this hearing.
Good afternoon. In our hearings over the previous weeks, the Select Committee has laid out the details of a multi-part pressure campaign driven by the former president aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election and blocking the transfer of power. We've shown that this effort was based on a lie, a lie that the election was stolen, tainted by widespread fraud, Donald Trump's big lie.
In the weeks ahead, the committee will hold additional hearings about how Donald Trump summoned a mob of his supporters to Washington, spurred them to march on the Capitol, and failed to take meaningful action to quell the violence as it was unfolding on January 6th. However, in recent days the Select Committee has obtained new information dealing with what was going on in the White House on January 6th and in the days prior, specific detailed information about what the former president and his top aides were doing and saying in those critical hours, firsthand details of what transpired in the office of the White House chief of staff just steps from the Oval Office as the threats of violence became clear, and indeed violence ultimately descended on the Capitol in the attack on American democracy.
It's an important — it's important that the American people hear that information immediately. That's why, in consultation with the vice chair, I've recalled the committee for today's hearing. As you've seen and heard in our earlier hearings, the Select Committee has developed a massive body of evidence thanks to the many hundreds of witnesses who have voluntarily provided information relevant to our investigation.
It hasn't always been easy to get that information because the same people who drove the former president's pressure campaign to overturn the election are now trying to cover up the truth about January 6th. But thanks to the courage of certain individuals, the truth won't be buried. The American people won't be left in the dark.
Our witness today, Ms. Cassidy Hutchinson, has embodied that courage. I won't get into a lot of detail about Ms. Hutchinson's testimony we'll show. I'll allow her words to speak for themselves, and I hope everyone at home will listen very closely. First, I recognize our distinguished vice chair, Ms. Cheney of Wyoming, for any opening statement she'd care to offer.
LIZ CHENEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. In our first five hearings, the committee has heard from a significant number of Republicans, including former Trump administration Justice Department officials, Trump campaign officials, several members of President Trump's White House staff, a prominent conservative judge, and several others.
Today's witness, Ms. Cassidy Hutchinson, is another Republican and another former member of President Trump's White House staff. Certain of us in the House of Representatives recall that Ms. Hutchinson once worked for House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, but she is also a familiar face on Capitol Hill because she held a prominent role in the White House Legislative Affairs Office and later was the principal aide to President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
Ms. Hutchinson has spent considerable time up here on Capitol Hill representing the Trump administration, and we welcome her back. Up until now, our hearings have each been organized to address specific elements of President Trump's plan to overturn the 2020 election. Today we are departing somewhat from that model because Ms. Hutchinson's testimony touches on several important and cross-cutting topics, topics that are relevant to each of our future hearings.
In her role working for the White House chief of staff, Ms. Hutchinson handled a vast number of sensitive issues. She worked in the West Wing, several steps down the hall from the Oval Office. Ms. Hutchinson spoke daily with members of Congress, with high ranking officials in the administration,
with senior White House staff, including Mr. Meadows, with White House counsel lawyers and with Mr. Tony Ornato, who served as the White House deputy chief of staff.
She also worked on a daily basis with members of the Secret Service who were posted in the White House. In short, Ms. Hutchinson was in a position to know a great deal about the happenings in the Trump White House. Ms. Hutchinson has already sat for four videotaped interviews with committee investigators, and we thank her very much for her cooperation and for her courage.
We will cover certain, but not all, relevant topics within Ms. Hutchinson's knowledge today. Again, our future hearings will supply greater detail, putting the testimony today in a broader and more complete context. Today you will hear Ms. Hutchinson relate certain firsthand observations of President Trump's conduct on January 6th. You will also hear new information regarding the actions and statements of Mr. Trump's senior advisers that day, including his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and his White House counsel, and we will begin to examine evidence bearing on what President Trump and members of the White House staff knew about the prospect for violence on January 6th, even before that violence began.
To best communicate the information the committee has gathered, we will follow the practice of our recent hearings, playing videotaped testimony from Ms. Hutchinson and others and also posing questions to Ms. Hutchinson live. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
BENNIE THOMPSON: Thank you very much. Our witness today is Ms. Cassidy Hutchinson, who served in the Trump administration in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs from 2019 to 2020 and as a special assistant to the president in the White House chief of staff's office from March 2020 through January 2021. I will now swear in our witness.
The witness will please stand and raise her right hand. Do you swear or affirm under penalty of perjury that the testimony you're about to give is truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: [Off mic]
BENNIE THOMPSON: Thank you. You may be seated. Let the record reflect the witness answered in the affirmative. I now recognize myself for questions. Ms. Hutchinson, I'd like to start with a few questions about your background. The — these are some photographs we've obtained highlighting your career. These show you with members of Congress, including Steve Scalise, as well as the White House with leader Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan.
Others show you with the --president and members of Congress aboard Air Force One. Before you worked in the White House, you worked on Capitol Hill for Representative Steve Scalise, the Republican whip, and Senator Ted Cruz. And then in 2019, you moved to the White House and served there until the end of the Trump administration in 2020. When you started at the White House, you served at — in the Office of Legislative Affairs.
We understand that you were initially hired as a staff assistant, but were soon promoted to a position of greater responsibility. Can you explain your role for the committee?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: When I moved over to the White House chief of staff's office with Mr. Meadows when he became the fourth chief of staff, it's difficult to describe a typical day. I was a special assistant to the president and an adviser to — advisor to the chief of staff. The days depended on what the president was doing that day, and that's kind of how my portfolio was reflected.
I had a lot of outreach with members of Congress, senior cabinet — cabinet officials. You would work on — I would work on policy issues with relevant internal components and members on the Hill, as well as security protocol at the White House complex for Mr. Meadows and the president.
BENNIE THOMPSON: And then you received another promotion in March 2020. At that time, you became the principal aide to the new White House Chief of staff Mark Meadows. Is that right?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct sir.
BENNIE THOMPSON: What did a typical day look like for you in your work with Mr. Meadows?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: It varied with what was going on. We spent a lot of time on the Hill. I spent time on the Hill independently, too, as I was his liaison for Capitol Hill. We did a lot of Presidential travel engagements, but mostly I was there to serve what the Chief of Staff needed. And a lot of times what the Chief of staff needed was a reflection of what the President's schedule was detailed to do that day.
BENNIE THOMPSON: So is it fair to say that you spoke regularly in your position, both with members of Congress and with senior members of the Trump administration?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct. That's a fair assessment sir.
BENNIE THOMPSON: And would you say that in your work with Mr. Meadows, you were typically in contact with him and others in the White House throughout the day?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct sir. Mr. Meadows and I were in contact almost — pretty much throughout every day consistently.
BENNIE THOMPSON: Although, so much of grave importance happens in the West Wing of the White House, it's a quite a small building. Above me on the screen, you can see a map of the first floor of the West Wing of the White House. On the right, you can see the President's Oval Office. On the left, the Chief of Staff's office suite.
Within the Chief of Staff's office suite as the heart of the West Wing was your desk, which was between the Vice President's office, Mr. Kushner's office and the Oval Office. Ms. Hutchinson, Is this an accurate depiction of where you were located?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: It's accurate. It's a lot smaller than it looks.
BENNIE THOMPSON: Absolutely. Ms. Hutchinson, this is a photo that shows the short distance between your office and the President's Oval Office. And it only takes 5 to 10 seconds or so to walk down the hall from your office to the Oval Office. Is that right?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct.
BENNIE THOMPSON: Thank you. Pursuant to the Section 5c(8) of House Resolution 503, the Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Wyoming, Ms. Cheney, for questions.
LIZ CHENEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, we will begin today with an exchange that first provided Ms. Hutchinson a tangible sense of the ongoing planning for the events of January 6th. On January 2nd, four days before the attack on our Capitol, President Trump's lead lawyer Mr. Giuliani was meeting with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and others.
Ms. Hutchinson, do you remember Mr. Giuliani meeting with Mr. Meadows on January 2, 2021?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I do. He met with Mr. Meadows in the evening of January 2, 2021.
LIZ CHENEY: And we understand that you walked Mr. Giuliani out of the White House that night, and he talked to you about January 6th. What do you remember him saying?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: As Mr. Giuliani and I were walking to his vehicles that evening, he looked at me and said something to the effect of, Cass, are you excited for the 6th? It's going to be a great day. I remember looking at him saying, Rudy, could you explain what's happening on the 6th? He had responded something to the effect of, we're going to the Capitol.
It's going to be great. The President's going to be there. He's going to look powerful. He's — 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.
LIZ CHENEY: And did you go back then up to the West Wing and tell Mr. Meadows about your conversation with Mr. Giuliani?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I did. After Mr. Giuliani had left the campus that evening, I went back up to our office and I found Mr. Meadows in his office on the couch. He was scrolling through his phone. I remember leaning against the doorway and saying, I just had an interesting conversation with Rudy, Mark. It sounds like we're going to go to the Capitol.
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.
LIZ CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson. Mr. Meadows is engaged in litigation with the committee to try to avoid testifying here. What — what was your reaction when he said to you things might get real, real bad?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: In the days before January 2nd, I was apprehensive about the 6th. I had heard general plans for a rally. I had heard tentative movements to potentially go to the Capitol. But when hearing Rudy's take on
January 6th and then Marc's response, that was the first — that evening was the first moment that I remember feeling scared and nervous for what could happen on January 6th. And I had a deeper concern for what was happening with the planning aspects of it.
LIZ CHENEY: Thank you, Ms. Hutchinson. Today, we're going to be focusing primarily on the events of January 5th and 6th at the White House. But to begin and to frame the discussion, I want to talk about a conversation that you had with Mr. John Ratcliffe, the Director of National Intelligence. And you had this conversation in December of 2020. Mr. Ratcliffe was nominated by President Trump to oversee US intelligence — our US intelligence community.
And before his appointment, Mr. Ratcliffe was a Republican member of Congress. As you will see on this clip, Director Ratcliffe's comments in December of 2020 were prescient. [Begin videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: My understanding was Mr. — Director Ratcliffe didn't want much to do with the post-election period. Director Ratcliffe felt that It wasn't something that the White House should be pursuing. It felt it was dangerous for the President's legacy. He had expressed to me that he was concerned that it could spiral out of control and potentially be dangerous, either for our democracy or the way that things were going for the 6th.
UNKNOWN: When you say it wasn't something the White House should be pursuing, what's the it?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Trying to fight the results of the election, finding missing ballots, pressuring — filing lawsuits in certain states where there didn't seem to be significant evidence, and reaching out to state legislatures about that. So pretty much the way that the White House was handling the postelection period, he felt that there could be dangerous repercussions, in terms of precedent set for elections, for our democracy, for the 6th. You know, he was hoping that we would concede. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: So, Ms. Hutchinson, now we're going to turn to certain information that was available before January 4th and what the Trump administration and the President knew about the potential for violence before January 6th. On the screen, you will see an email received by Acting Deputy Attorney General Donoghue on January 4th from the National Security Division of the Department of Justice.
Mr. Donoghue testified in our hearings last week. The email identifies apparent planning by those coming to Washington on January 6th to, quote, occupy federal buildings and discussions of, quote, invading the Capitol building. Here's what Mr. Donoghue said to us. [Begin videotape]
RICHARD DONOGHUE: And we knew that if you have tens of thousands of very obsessive people showing up in Washington DC that there was potential for violence. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: The US Secret Service was looking at similar information and watching the planned demonstrations. In fact, their intelligence division sent several emails to White House personnel like Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornato and the head of the President's protective detail Robert Engel, including certain materials listing events like those on the screen.
The White House continued to receive updates about planned demonstrations, including information regarding the Proud Boys organizing and planning to attend events on January 6th. Although Ms. Hutchinson has no detailed knowledge of any planning involving the Proud Boys for January 6th, she did note this. [Begin videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I recall hearing the word Oath Keeper and hearing the word Proud Boys closer to the planning of the January 6th rally when Mr. Giuliani would be around. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: On January 3rd, the Capitol Police issued a special event assessment. In that document, the Capitol Police noted that the Proud Boys and other groups planned to be in Washington, DC on January 6th and indicated that, quote, unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th. Of course, we all know now that the Proud Boys showed up on January 6th, marched from the Washington Monument to the Capitol that day, and led the riotous mob to invade and occupy our Capitol.
Ms. Hutchinson, I want to play you a clip of one of our meetings when you described a call on January 4th that you received from National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien on the same topic, potential violence on January 6th. [Begin videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I received a call from Robert O'Brien, the National Security Advisor. He had asked if he could speak with Mr. Meadows about potential violent — words of violence that he was hearing that were potentially going to happen on the Hill on January 6th. I had asked if he had connected with Tony Ornato, because Tony Ornato had a conversation with him, with Mark, about that topic.
Robert had said, I'll talk to Tony, and then I don't know if Robert ever connected with Mark about the issue. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson, can you describe for us Mr. Ornato's responsibilities as Deputy Chief of Staff?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: The Deputy Chief of Staff position at the White House for operations is arguably one of the most important positions that somebody can hold. They're in charge of all security protocol for the campus and all Presidential protectees, primarily the President and the first family. But anything that requires security for any individual that has presidential protection, so the Chief of Staff or the National Security Advisor, as well as the Vice President's team, too, Tony would oversee all of that.
And he was the conduit for security protocol between White House staff and the United States Secret Service.
LIZ CHENEY: Thank you. And you also described a brief meeting between Mr. Ornato and Mr. Meadows on the potential for violence. The meeting was on January 4th. They were talking about the potential for
violence on January 6th. Let's listen to a clip of that testimony. [Begin videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I remember Mr. Ornato had talked to him about intelligence reports. I just remember Mr. Ornato coming in and saying that we had intel reports saying that there could potentially be violence on the 6th. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: You also told us about reports of violence and weapons that the Secret Service were receiving on the night of January 5th and throughout the day on January 6th. Is that correct?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct.
LIZ CHENEY: There are reports that police in Washington, DC had arrested several people with firearms or ammunition following a separate pro-Trump rally in Freedom Plaza on the evening of January 5th. Are those some of the reports that you recall hearing about?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: They are.
LIZ CHENEY: Of course, the world now knows that the people who attacked the Capitol on January 6th had many different types of weapons. When a President speaks, the Secret Service typically requires those attending to pass through metal detectors known as magnetometers, or mags for short. The Select Committee has learned that people who willingly entered the enclosed area for President Trump's speech were screened so they could attend the rally at the Ellipse.
They had weapons and other items that were confiscated: pepper spray, knives, brass knuckles, tasers, body armor, gas masks, batons, blunt weapons. And those were just from the people who chose to go through the security for the President's event on the Ellipse, not the several thousand
members of the crowd who refused to go through the mags and watched from the lawn near the Washington Monument.
The Select Committee has learned about reports from outside the magnetometers, and has obtained police radio transmissions identifying individuals with firearms, including AR-15s, near the Ellipse on the morning of January 6th. Let's listen. [Begin videotape]
UNKNOWN: There's an individual who is in a tree. It's gonna be a white male, about six feet tall, thin build, brown cowboy boots. He's got jeans and a blue jean jacket, and underneath the hoodie jacket the complainants both saw stock of an AR-15. He's going to be with a group of individuals, about 5 to 8 — 5 to 8 other individuals.
Two of the individuals in that group at the base of the tree near the porta-pottys were wearing green fatigues, green olive dress house fatigues. About 5'8", 5'9", skinny — skinny white males, brown cowboy boots.
UNKNOWN: They had Glock style pistols in their waistband. 8736-- That subject's weapon on his right hip. That's a negative, he's in the tree. Motor one, make sure PPD knows they have an elevated threat in the tree south side of Constitution Avenue. Look for the Don't Tread on Me flag, American flag facemask, cowboy boots, weapon on the right — right side hip. I got three men walking down the street in fatigues.
One's carrying a AR-15. Copy at 14th and Independence. [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: AR-15s at 14th and Independence. As you saw in those emails, the first report that we showed we now know was sent in the 8:00 hour on January 6th. This talked about people in the crowd wearing ballistic helmets and body armor, carrying radio equipment and military grade backpacks. The second report we showed you on the screen was sent by the Secret Service in the 11 a.m. hour and it addressed reports of a man with a rifle near the ellipse.
Ms. Hutchinson, in prior testimony you described for us a meeting in the White House around 10 a.m. in the morning of January 6th involving Chief of Staff Meadows and Tony Ornato. Were you in that meeting?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I was.
LIZ CHENEY: Let's listen to your testimony about that meeting and then we'll have some questions. [Begin Videotape]
UNKNOWN: I think the last time we talked you mentioned that some of the weapons that people had at the rally included flagpoles, oversized sticks or flagpoles, bear spray. Is there anything else that you recall hearing about that the — the people who had gathered on the ellipse had?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I recall Tony and I having a conversation with Mark probably around 10 a.m., 10:15 a.m. where I remember Tony mentioning knives, guns in the form of pistols and rifles, bear spray, body armor, spears, and flagpoles. Spears were one item, flagpoles were one item. But then Tony had related to me something to the effect of and these effing people are fastening spears onto the ends of flagpoles. [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson, here's a clip of your testimony regarding Mr. Meadows' response to learning that the rally attendees were armed that day. [Begin Videotape]
What was Mark's reaction — Mr. Meadows' reaction to this list of weapons that people had in the crowd?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: When Tony and I went in to talk to Mark that morning, Mark was sitting on his couch and on his phone which was something typical. And I remember Tony just got right into it. He was like, sorry, I just want to let you know and informed him, like, this is how many people we have outside the mags right now.
These are the weapons that we're going to have. It's possible he listed more weapons off that I just don't recall. And gave him a brief but — and concise explanation, but also fairly — fairly thorough. And I remember distinctly Mark not looking up from his phone, right? I remember Tony finishing his explanation and it taking a few seconds for Mark to say his name.
Because I almost said, Mark, did you hear him? And then Mark chimed in. It was like, Alright, anything else? Still looking down at his phone. And Tony looked at me and I looked at Tony and he — Tony said no, Sir. Do you have any questions? He's like, what are you hearing? And I looked at Tony and I was like, Sir he just told you about what was happening down at the rallies.
And he was like yeah, yeah. I know. And then he looked up and said have you talked to the President? And Tony said yes, Sir. He's aware. And he said Alright. Good.
LIZ CHENEY: He asked Tony if Tony had informed the President --
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: — Yes --
LIZ CHENEY: — And Tony said yes, he had. [End Videotape] So Miss Hutchinson, is it your understanding that Mr. Ornato told the President about weapons at the rally on the morning of January 6th?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's what Mr. Ornato relayed to me.
LIZ CHENEY: And here's how you characterized Mr. Meadows' general response when people raised concerns about what could happen on January 6th. [Begin Videotape]
UNKNOWN: So at the time in the days leading up to the 6th, there were lots of public reports about how things might go bad on the 6th, even the potential for violence. If I'm hearing you correctly, what stands out to you is that Mr. Meadows did not share those concerns or at least did not act on those concerns.
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Did not act on those concerns would be accurate.
UNKNOWN: But other people raised them to — to him like in this exchange you mentioned that Mr. Ornato pulled him aside.
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct. [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson, we're going to show now an exchange of texts between you and Deputy Chief of Staff Ornato. And these text messages were exchanged while you were at the ellipse. In one text you write: But the crowd looks good from this vantage point. As long as we get the shot. He was effing furious.
And the text messages also stress that President Trump kept mentioning the OTR, an off the record movement. We're going to come back and ask you about that in a minute. But could you tell us, first of all, who it is in the text who was furious?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: The he in that text that I was referring to was the President.
LIZ CHENEY: And why was he furious, Miss Hutchinson?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: He was furious because he wanted the arena that we had on the ellipse to be maxed out at capacity for all attendees. The advanced team had relayed to him that the mags were free flowing. Everybody who wanted to come in had already come in. But he still was angry about the extra space and wanted more people to come in.
LIZ CHENEY: And did you go to the rally in the Presidential motorcade?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I — I was there, yes, in the motorcade.
LIZ CHENEY: And were you backstage with the President and other members of his staff and family?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I was.
LIZ CHENEY: And you told us, Ms. Hutchinson, about particular comments that you heard while you were in the tent area. [Begin Videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: When we were in the offstage announce area tent behind the stage he was very concerned about the shot, meaning the photograph that we would get, because the rally space wasn't full. One of the reasons which I've previously stated was because he wanted it to be full and for people to not feel excluded because they had come far to watch him at the rally.
And he felt the mags were at fault for not letting everybody in. But another leading reason and likely the primary reason is because he wanted it full and he was angry that we weren't letting people through the mags with weapons, what the Secret Service deemed as weapons and are — are weapons.
But when we were in the offstage announce tent, I was part of a conversation — I was in — I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the President say something to the effect of, you know, I - - I don't effing care that they have weapons.
They're not here to hurt me. Take that effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away. [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Just to be clear, Ms. Hutchinson, is it your understanding that the President wanted to take the mags away and said that the armed individuals were not there to hurt him?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's a fair assessment.
LIZ CHENEY: The issue wasn't with the amount of space available in the official rally area only, but instead that people did not want to have to go through the mags. Let's listen to a portion of what you told us about that. [Begin Videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: In this particular instance, it wasn't the capacity of our space. It was the mags and the people that didn't want to come through. And that's what Tony had been trying to relay to him that morning. You know, it's not the issues that we encounter on the campaign. We have enough space, Sir. They don't want to come in right now.
They — they have weapons that they don't want confiscated by the Secret Service. And they're fine on the mall. They can see you on the mall and they're — they want to march straight to the Capitol from the mall. [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: The President apparently wanted all attendees inside the official rally space and repeatedly said, quote, "They're not here to hurt me." [Begin Videotape] And — and just to — to be clear. So he was told again in — in that conversation — or was he told again in that conversation that people couldn't come through the mags because they had weapons?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Correct.
LIZ CHENEY: And that people — and he — his response was to say they can march to the Capitol from — is it from the ellipse?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Something to the effect of take the effing mags away. They're not here to hurt me. Let them in. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol after the rallies are over. They can march from — they can march from the ellipse. Take the effing mags away. Then they can march to the Capitol. [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson, what we saw when those clips were playing were photos provided by the National Archives showing the President in the offstage tent before his speech on the ellipse. You were in some of those photos as well. And I just want to confirm that that is when you heard the President say the people with weapons weren't there to hurt him and that he wanted the Secret Service to remove the magnetometers.
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct. In the photos that you displayed we were standing towards the front of the tent with the TVs really close to where he would walk out to go on to the stage. The — these conversations happened two to three minutes before he took the stage that morning.
LIZ CHENEY: Let's reflect on that for a moment. President Trump was aware that a number of the individuals in the crowd had weapons and were wearing body armor.
And here's what President Trump instructed the crowd to do. [Begin Videotape]
DONALD TRUMP: We're going to walk down, and I'll be there with you. We're going to walk down — [Applause] — We're going to walk down any one you want. But I think right here. We're going to walk down to the Capitol. [Applause] [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: And the crowd as we know did proceed to the Capitol. It soon became apparent to the Secret Service including the Secret Service teams in the crowd along with White House staff that security at the Capitol would not be sufficient. [Begin Videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I had two or three phone conversations with Mr. Ornato when we were at the ellipse. And then I had four men on Mr. Meadows' detail with me in between those individuals and a few other bodies on the ground just secret service doing advance. They're getting notifications through their radios and Mr. Ornato on one phone conversation had called me and said make sure the Chief knows that they're — they're getting close to the Capitol.
It's — they're having trouble stacking bodies. [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: And Ms. Hutchinson, when you — you said they were having trouble stacking bodies, did you mean that law enforcement at the Capitol needed more people to defend the Capitol from the rioters?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: It was becoming clear to us and to the Secret Service that Capitol Police officers were getting overrun at the security barricades outside of the Capitol building. And they were having short — they were short people to defend the building against the rioters.
LIZ CHENEY: And you mentioned that Mr. Ornato was conveying this to you because he wanted you to tell Mr. Meadows.
So did you — did you tell Mr. Meadows that people were getting closer to the Capitol and that Capitol Police was having challen — difficulty?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: After I had the conversation with Mr. Meadows, Mr. — after I had the conversation with Mr. Ornato I went to have the discussion with Mr. Meadows. He was in a secure vehicle at the time making a call. So when I had gone over to the car, I went to open the door to let him know and he had immediately shut it. I don't know who he was speaking with.
It wasn't something that he regularly did, especially when I would go over to give him information. So I was a bit taken aback, but I didn't think much of it and thinking that I was — would be able to have the conversation with him a few moments later.
LIZ CHENEY: And were you able to have that conversation a few moments later?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Probably about 20 to 25 minutes later. There was another period of between where he shut the door again and then when he finally got out of the vehicle we had the conversation. But at that point there was a backlog of information that he should have been made aware of.
LIZ CHENEY: And so you opened the door to the control car and Mr. Meadows pulled it shut?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct.
LIZ CHENEY: And he did that two times?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct.
LIZ CHENEY: And when you finally were able to give Mr. Meadows the information about the violence at the Capitol, what was his reaction?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: He almost had a lack of reaction. I remember him saying Alright, something to the effect of how much longer does the President have left in this speech?
LIZ CHENEY: Again, much of this information about the potential for violence was known or learned before the onset of the violence, early enough for President Trump to take steps to prevent it. He could, for example, have urged the crowd at the ellipse not to march to the Capitol. He could have condemned the violence immediately once it began.
Or he could have taken multiple other steps. But as we will see today and in later hearings, President Trump had something else in mind. One other question at this point Miss Hutchinson. Were you aware of concerns that White House counsel Pat Cipollone or Eric Herschmann had about the language President Trump used in his ellipse speech?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: There were many discussions the morning of the six about the rhetoric of the speech that day. In my conversations with Mr. Herschmann, he had relayed that we would be foolish to include language that had been included at the President's request, which had lines along — to the effect of fight for Trump. We're going to march the Capitol.
I'll be there with you. Fight for me. Fight for what we're doing. Fight for the movement. Things about the Vice President at the time too. Both Mr. Herschmann and White House counsel's office were urging the speechwriters to not include that language for legal concerns, and also for the optics of what it could portray the president wanting to do that day.
LIZ CHENEY: And we just heard the president say that he would be with his supporters as they marched to the Capitol. Even though he did not end up going, he certainly wanted to. Some have questioned whether President Trump genuinely planned to come here to the Capitol on January 6th. In his book, Mark Meadows falsely wrote that after President Trump gave his speech on January 6th, he told Mr. Meadows that he was, quote, speeding — speaking metaphorically about the walk to the Capitol.
As you will see, Donald Trump was not speaking metaphorically. As we heard earlier, Rudy Giuliani told Ms. Hutchinson that Mr. Trump planed to travel to the Capitol on January 6th. I want to pause for just a moment to ask you, Ms. Hutchinson, to explain some of the terminology you will hear today. We've heard you use two different terms to describe plans for the president's movement to the Capitol or anywhere else.
One of those is a scheduled movement and another one is OTR. Could you describe for us what each of those means?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: A scheduled presidential movement is on his official schedule. It's notified to the press and to a wide range of staff that will be traveling with him. It's known to the public, known as the Secret Service, and they're able to coordinate the movement days in advance. An off the record movement is confined to the knowledge of a very, very small group of advisers and staff.
Typically a very small group of staff would travel with him, mostly that are just included in the national security package. You can pull an off to — off the record movement together in less than an hour. It's a way to kind of circumvent having to release it to the press, if that's the goal of it, or to not have to have as many security parameters put in place ahead of time to make a movement happen.
LIZ CHENEY: Thank you. And let's turn back now to the president's plans to travel to the Capitol on January 6th. We know that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was concerned about the legal implications of such a trip, and he agreed with the Secret Service that it shouldn't happen. Ms. Hutchinson, did you have any conversations with Pat Cipollone about his concerns about the president going to the Capitol on January 6th?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: On January 3rd, Mr. Cipollone had approached me knowing that Mark had raised the prospect of going up to the Capitol on January 6th. Mr. Cipollone and I had a brief private conversation where he said to me we need to make sure that this doesn't happen. This would be a legally a terrible idea for us. We're — we have serious legal concerns if we go up to the Capitol that day.
And he then urged me to continue relaying that to Mr. Meadows, because it's my understanding that Mr. Cipollone thought that Mr. Meadows was indeed pushing this, along with the president.
LIZ CHENEY: And we understand, Ms. Hutchinson, that you also spoke to Mr. Cipollone on the morning of the 6th as you were about to go to the rally on the Ellipse, and Mr. Cipollone said something to you like make sure the movement to the Capitol does not happen. Is that correct?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct. I saw Mr. Cipollone right before I walked out onto West Exec that morning, and Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.
LIZ CHENEY: And do you remember which crimes Mr. Cipollone was concerned with?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: In the days leading up to the 6th, we had conversations about potentially obstructing justice or defrauding the electoral count.
LIZ CHENEY: Let's hear about some of those concerns that you mentioned earlier in one of your interviews with us. [Begin videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Having a private conversation with Pat late in the afternoon of the 3rd or 4th that Pat was concerned it would look like we were obstructing justice or obstructing the Electoral College count. And I apologize for probably not being so very clear with my legal terms here, but that it would look like we were obstructing what was happening on Capitol Hill.
And he was also worried that it would look like we were inciting a riot or encouraging a riot to erupt on the Capitol — at the Capitol. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: In fact, in the days before January 6th and on January 6th itself, President Trump expressed to multiple White House aides that he wanted to go to the Capitol after his speech. Here's what various White House aides have told the committee about the president's desire to go to the Capitol. [Begin videotape]
UNKNOWN: Did the president tell you this, that he wanted to speak at the Capitol.
MAX MILLER: Correct. Yes.
UNKNOWN: During the meeting in the dining room, did the — the idea of the president proceeding or walking to the Capitol on the 6th after his speech come up?
MAX MILLER: Walking to the Capitol? No.
UNKNOWN: Driving to the Capitol?
MAX MILLER: It came up.
UNKNOWN: Ok. How did it come up and what was discussed?
MAX MILLER: He brought it up. He said I want to go down to the Capitol.
UNKNOWN: What about him marching to the Capitol on the 6th?
NICK LUNA: Yes.
UNKNOWN: Tell us about that.
NICK LUNA: So, it's kind of a general thing. I mean, to get into the specifics of it, I — I was aware of the desire of the president to potentially march to the — or — or accompany the rally attendees to the Capitol.
UNKNOWN: When did you first hear about this idea of the president accompanying rally attendees to the Capitol on the 6th?
NICK LUNA: Well, this was at the 6th. This was during the — and after he finished his remarks. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: When the president said that he would be going to the Capitol during his speech on the Ellipse, the Secret Service scrambled to find a way for him to go. We know this from witnesses and the Secret Service, also from messages among staff on the president's National Security Council. The NSC staff were monitoring the situation in real time, and you can see how the situation evolved in the following chat log that the committee has obtained.
As you can see, NSC staff believed that MOGUL, the president, was "going to the Capitol," and "they are finding the best route now." From these chats, we also know the staff learned of the attack on the Capitol in real time. When President Trump left the Ellipse stage at 1:10, the staff knew that rioters had invaded the inaugural stage and Capitol Police were calling for all available officers to respond.
When Republican leader Kevin McCarthy heard the president say he was going to the Capitol, he called you, Ms. Hutchinson, isn't that right?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct.
LIZ CHENEY: And in this text message, you told Tony Ornato, "McCarthy just called me too. And do you guys think you're coming to my office?" Tell us about the call that day with Leader McCarthy during the president's speech on the Ellipse.
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I was still in the tent behind the stage. And when you're behind the stage, you can't really hear what's going on in front of you. So, when Mr. McCarthy called me with this information, I answered the call. And he sounded rushed, but also frustrated and angry at me. I — I was confused because I — I didn't know what the president had just said.
He then explained the president just said he's marching to the Capitol. You told me this whole week you aren't coming up here. Why would you lie to me? I said I'm — I'm not lying. I wasn't lying to you, sir. I — we're not going to the Capitol. And he said, well, he just said it on stage, Cassidy. Figure it out.
Don't come up here. I said I'll — I'll — I'll run the traps on this and I'll shoot you a text. I can assure you we're not coming up to the Capitol. We've already made that decision. He pressed a little bit more, believing me but I think frustrated that the president had said that. And we ended the phone conversation after that.
I called Mr. Ornato to reconfirm that we weren't going to the Capitol, and which was also in our text messages. I sent Mr. McCarthy another text telling him the affirmative, that we were not going up to the Capitol, and he didn't respond after that.
LIZ CHENEY: And we understand, Ms. Hutchinson, that the plans for the president to come up to the Capitol had included discussions at some point about what the president would do when he came up to the Capitol on January 6th. Let's look at a clip of one of your interviews discussing that issue with the committee. [Begin videotape]
UNKNOWN: When you were talking about a scheduled movement, did anyone say what the president wanted to do when he got here?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: No, not that I can specifically remember. I remember — I remember hearing a few different ideas discussed with — between Mark and Scott Perry, Mark and Rudy Giuliani. I don't know which conversations were elevated to the president. I don't know what he personally wanted to do when he went up to the Capitol that day.
You know, I — I know that there were discussions about him having another speech outside of the Capitol before going in. I know that there was a conversation about him going into the House chamber at one point. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: As we've all just heard, in the days leading up to January 6th, on the day of the speech, both before and during and after the rally speech, President Trump was pushing his staff to arrange for him to come up here to the Capitol during the electoral vote count. Let's turn now to what happened in the president's vehicle when the Secret Service told him he would not be going to the Capitol after his speech. First, here is the president's motorcade leaving the Ellipse after his speech on January 6th. Ms. Hutchinson, when you returned to the White House in the motorcade after the president's speech, where did you go?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: When I returned to the White House, I walked upstairs towards the chief of staff's office, and I noticed Mr. Ornato lingering outside of the office. Once we had made eye contact, he quickly waved me to go into his office, which was just across the hall from mine. When I went in, he shut the door, and I noticed Bobby Engel, who was the head of Mr. Trump's security detail, sitting in a chair, just looking somewhat discombobulated and a little lost.
I looked at Tony and he had said, did you f'ing hear what happened in the beast? I said, no, Tony, I — I just got back. What happened? Tony proceeded to tell me that when the president got in the beast, he was under the impression from Mr. Meadows that the off the record movement to the Capitol was still possible and likely to happen, but that Bobby had more information.
So, once the president had gotten into the vehicle with Bobby, he thought that they were going up to the Capitol. And when Bobby had relayed to him we're not, we don't have the assets to do it, it's not secure, we're going back to the West Wing, the president had a very strong, a very angry response to that.
Tony described him as being irate. The president said something to the effect of I'm the f'ing president, take me up to the Capitol now, to which Bobby responded, sir, we have to go back to the West Wing. The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel.
We're going back to the West Wing. We're not going to the Capitol. Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel. And Mr. — when Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.
LIZ CHENEY: And was Mr. Engel in the room as Mr. Ornato told you this story?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: He was.
LIZ CHENEY: Did Mr. Engel correct or disagree with any part of this story from Mr. Ornato?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Mr. Engel did not correct or disagree with any part of the story.
LIZ CHENEY: Did Mr. Engel or Mr. Ornato ever after that tell you that what Mr. Ornato had just said was untrue?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Neither Mr. Ornato nor Mr. Engel told me ever that it was untrue.
LIZ CHENEY: And despite this altercation, this physical altercation during the ride back to the White House, President Trump still demanded to go to the Capitol. Here's what Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary at the time, wrote in her personal notes and told the committee about President Trump's desire to go to the Capitol after returning to the White House. [Begin videotape]
UNKNOWN: When you wrote POUTS wanted to walk to the Capitol, was that based solely on what the president said during his speech or anything that he or anybody else said afterwards?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY: So, to the best of my recollection, I believe when we got back to the White House he said he wanted to physically walk with the marchers. And according to my notes, he then said, you'd be fine with just writing the piece, but — so that's my recollection. He wanted to be a part of the March in some fashion.
UNKNOWN: Alright. And just for the record, the piece refers to the Presidential limousine?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY: Yes. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: President Trump did not go to the Capitol that day. We understand that he blamed Mark Meadows for that. [Begin videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: So prior to leaving the rally site when he got off the stage and everybody was making the movement back to the motorcade, I had overheard Mr. Meadows say to him then, as I had prior to Mr. Trump taking the stage that morning, that he was still working on getting an off-the-record movement to the Capitol.
So when Mr. Trump took the stage, he was under the impression by Mr. Meadows that it was still possible. So when he got off the stage, I had relayed to Mr. Meadows that I had another conversation with Tony. The movement was still not possible. Mr. Meadows said, Ok. And then as they proceeded to go to the motorcade and Mr. Meadows had reiterated, we're going to work on it, sir.
Talk to Bobby. Bobby has more information. Mark got into his vehicle, to my understanding. Trump got into the [Inaudible]. And after we had all arrived back at the White House later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the President wasn't happy that Bobby didn't pull it off for him, and that Mark didn't work hard enough to get the movement on the books. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: The physical altercation that Ms. Hutchinson described in the Presidential vehicle was not the first time that the President had become very angry about issues relating to the election. On December 1, 2020, Attorney General Barr said in an interview that the Department of Justice had not found evidence of widespread election fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the election.
Ms. Hutchinson, how did the President react to hearing that news?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Around the time that I understand the AP article went live, I remember hearing noise coming from down the hallway. So I poked my head out of the office. I saw the valet walking towards our office. He had said, get the Chief down to the dining room. The President wants him. So Mark went down to the dining room, came back to the office a few minutes later.
After Mark had returned, I left the office and went down to the dining room and I noticed that the door was propped open and the valet was inside the dining room changing the tablecloth off of the dining room table. He motioned for me to come in and then pointed towards the front of the room near the fireplace mantel and the TV, where I first noticed there was catsup dripping down the wall and there was a shattered porcelain plate on the floor.
The valet had articulated that the President was extremely angry at the Attorney General's AP interview and had thrown his lunch against the wall, which was causing him to have to clean up. So I grabbed a towel and started wiping the catsup off of the wall to help the valet out. And he said something to the effect of, he's really ticked off about this.
I would stay clear of him for right now. He's really, really ticked off about this right now.
LIZ CHENEY: And Ms. Hutchinson, was this the only instance that you are aware of where the President threw dishes?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: It's not.
LIZ CHENEY: And are there other instances in the dining room that you recall where he expressed his anger?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: There were — there were several times throughout my tenure with the Chief of Staff that I was aware of him either throwing dishes or flipping the tablecloth to let all the contents of the table go onto the floor and likely break or go everywhere.
LIZ CHENEY: And Ms. Hutchinson, Attorney General Barr described to the Committee the President's angry reaction when he finally met with President Trump. Let's listen. [Begin videotape]
WILLIAM BARR: And I said, look, I — I know that you're dissatisfied with me and I'm glad to offer my resignation. And he pounded the table very hard and everyone sort of jumped in, and he said, accepted. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Mr. Chairman, I reserve.
BENNIE THOMPSON: The gentlewoman reserves. The Chair requests those in the hearing room to remain seated until the Capitol Police have escorted our witness from the room. Pursuant to the order of the Committee of today, the Chair declares the Committee in recess for a period of approximately 10 minutes. [Recess]
The Committee will be in order. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Wyoming, Vice Chair Cheney.
LIZ CHENEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Before we turn to what Ms. Hutchinson saw and heard in the White House during the violent attack on the Capitol on January 6th, let's discuss certain communications White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows had on January 5th. President Trump's associate, Roger Stone, attended rallies during the afternoon and the evening of January 5th in Washington, DC On January 5th and 6th, Mr. Stone was photographed with multiple members of the Oath Keepers who were allegedly serving as his security detail.
As we now know, multiple members of that organization have been charged with or pled guilty to crimes associated with January 6th. Mr. Stone has invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination before this committee. General Michael Flynn has also taken the Fifth before this committee. Mr. Stone previously had been convicted of other federal crimes unrelated to January 6th.
General Flynn had pleaded guilty to a felony charge, also predating and unrelated to January 6th. President Trump pardoned General Flynn just weeks after the Presidential election, and in July of 2020, he commuted the sentence Roger Stone was to serve.
The night before January 6th, President Trump instructed his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to contact both Roger Stone and Michael Flynn regarding what would play out the next day. Ms. Hutchinson, Is it your understanding that President Trump asked Mark Meadows to speak with Roger Stone and General Flynn on January 5th?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct. That is my understanding.
LIZ CHENEY: And Ms. Hutchinson, is it your understanding that Mr. Meadows called Mr. Stone on the 5th?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I'm under the impression that Mr. Meadows did complete both a call to Mr. Stone and General Flynn the evening of the 5th.
LIZ CHENEY: And do you know what they talked about that evening, Ms. Hutchinson?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I'm not sure.
LIZ CHENEY: Is it your understanding that Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Eastman, and others had set up what has been called, quote, a war room at the Willard Hotel on the night of the 5th?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I was aware of that the night of the 5th.
LIZ CHENEY: And do you know if Mr. Meadows ever intended to go to the Willard Hotel on the night of the 5th?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Mr. Meadows had a conversation with me where he wanted me to work with Secret Service on a movement from the White House to the Willard Hotel so he could attend the meeting or meetings with Mr. Giuliani and his associates in the war room.
LIZ CHENEY: And what was your view as to whether or not Mr. Meadows should go to the Willard that night?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I had made it clear to Mr. Meadows that I didn't believe it was a smart idea for him to go to the Willard Hotel that night. I wasn't sure everything that was going on at the Willard Hotel, although I knew enough about what Mr. Giuliani and his associates were pushing during this period. I didn't think that it was something appropriate for the White House Chief of Staff to attend or to consider involvement in, and made that clear to Mr. Meadows.
Throughout the afternoon, he mentioned a few more times going up to the Willard Hotel that evening, and then eventually dropped the subject the night of the 5th and said that he would dial in instead.
LIZ CHENEY: So General Flynn has appeared before this committee. And when he appeared before our committee, he took the Fifth. Let's briefly view a clip of General Mike Flynn taking the Fifth Amendment. [Begin videotape] General Flynn, do you believe the violence on January 6th was justified?
UNKNOWN: Can we have a minute?
LIZ CHENEY: Yes.
UNKNOWN: Alright, we're back. Congressman Cheney, could you repeat the question please?
LIZ CHENEY: Yes. General Flynn, do you believe the violence on January 6th was justified?
UNKNOWN: Is that — can I get a clarification? Is that a moral question or are you asking a legal question?
LIZ CHENEY: I'm asking both.
MICHAEL FLYNN: I said — I said the Fifth.
LIZ CHENEY: Do you believe the violence on January 6th was justified morally?
MICHAEL FLYNN: Take the Fifth.
LIZ CHENEY: Do you believe the violence on January 6th was justified legally?
MICHAEL FLYNN: Fifth.
LIZ CHENEY: General Flynn, do you believe in the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America?
MICHAEL FLYNN: The Fifth. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: That's the — Let's move on now to January 6th and the conduct of Donald Trump and Mark Meadows during the attack on the Capitol. Ms. Hutchinson, I'd like now for us to listen to a description — your description of what transpired in the West Wing during the attack. For context in this clip, you describe the time frame starting at about 2:00 p.m. [Begin videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: So I remember Mark being alone in his office for quite some time. And, you know, I know we've spoken about Ben Williamson going in at one point, and I don't personally remember Ben going in. I don't doubt that he had gone in. But I remember him being alone in his office for most of the afternoon. Around 2:00 to 2:05 — around 2:00 to 2:05, you know, we were watching the TV and I could see that the rioters were getting closer and closer to the Capitol.
Mark still hadn't popped out of his office or said anything about it. So that's when I went into his office. I saw that he was sitting on his couch on his cell phone, same as the morning where he was just kind of scrolling and typing. I said, hey, are you watching the TV, Chief? Because his TV was small and I — you can see it, but I didn't know if he was really paying attention.
I said, you watching the TV, Chief? He was like, yeah. I said, the rioters are getting really close. Have you talked to the President? And he said, no, he wants to be alone right now; still looking at his phone. So I start to get frustrated because, you know, I sort of felt like I was watching a — this is not a great comparison, but a bad car accident that was about to happen where you can't stop it, but you want to be able to do something.
I just remember — I remember thinking in that moment, Mark needs to snap out of this and I don't know how to snap him out of this, but he needs to care. And I just remember I blurted out and I said, Mark, do you know where Jim's at right now? And he looked up at me at that point and said, Jim? And I said, Mark, Is — he was on the floor a little while ago giving a floor speech.
Did you listen? He said, yeah, it was real good. Did you like it? And I said, yeah. Do you know where he's at right now? He said, no, I haven't heard from him. And I said, you might want to check in with him, Mark. And I remember pointing at the TV and I said, the rioters are getting close. They might get in. And he looked at me and said something to the effect of, Alright, I'll give him a call. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Not long after the rioters broke into the Capitol, you described what happened with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. [Begin videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: No more than a minute, minute and a half later, I see Pat Cipollone barreling down the hallway towards our office; and rush right in, looked at me, said, is Mark in his office? And I said, yes. He just looked at me and started shaking his head and went over — opened Mark's office door, stood there with the door propped open and said something to — Mark is still sitting on his phone.
I remember like glancing and he's still sitting on his phone. And I remember Pat saying to him something to the effect of, the rioters have gotten to the Capitol, Mark. We need to go down and see the President now. And Mark looked up at him and said, he doesn't want to do anything, Pat. And Pat said something to the effect of — and very clearly had said this to Mark — something to the effect of, Mark, something needs to be done or people are going to die and the blood is going to be on your f'ing hands.
This is getting out of control. I'm going down there. And at that point, Mark set up from his couch, both of his phones in his hand. He had his glasses on still. He walked out with Pat. He put both of this phones on my desk and said, let me know if Jim calls. And they walked out and went down to the dining room. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: A few minutes later, Representative Jordan called back. [Begin videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: A couple minutes later, so likely around between 2:15. 2:25 — I know the tweet went out at 2:24. I don't remember if I was there when the tweet went out or if it happened right afterwards, but Jim had called. I answered the phone, said, one second. He knew it was — I guess he knew it was — and I introduced myself, but I — I don't remember if he called my cell phone or if he had called one of Mark's. But I answered the phone and said, one sec, Mark's on the hall.
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I'm going to go hand the phone to him and he said, Ok. So I went down. I asked the valet if Mark was in the dining room. The valet said, yes. I opened the door — The dining room, briefly stepped in to get Mark's attention. I showed him the phone, like flipped the phone his way so he could see it said Jim Jordan. He had stepped to where I was standing there holding the door open, took the phone, talking to Jim with the door still propped open, so I took a few steps back.
So, I probably was two feet from Mark. He was standing in the doorway going into the Oval Office dining room. They had a brief conversation. And in the crossfires — you know, I heard briefly, like, what they were talking about, but in the background I had heard conversations in the Oval Dining Room with the — at that point talking about the hang Mike Pence chants. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: That clip ended, Ms. Hutchinson, with you recalling that you heard the president, Mr. Meadows, and the White House counsel discussing the hang Mike Pence chants, and then you described for us what happened next. [Begin videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: It wasn't until Mark hung up the phone, handed it back to me. I went back to my desk a couple of minutes later. Him and Pat came back, possibly Eric Herschmann too. I'm pretty sure Eric Herschmann was there, but I'm — I'm confident it was Pat that was there. I remember Pat saying something to the effect of, Mark, we need to do something more.
They're literally calling for the vice president to be f'ing hung. And Mark had responded something to the effect of, you heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn't think they're doing anything wrong, to which Pat said something, this is f'ing crazy, we need to be doing something more. Briefly stepped into Mark's office, and when Mark had said something — when Mark had said something to the effect of he doesn't think they're doing anything wrong. Knowing what I had heard briefly in the dining room coupled with Pat discussing the hanging Mike Pence chants in the lobby of our office and then Mark's response, I understood "they're" to be the rioters in the Capitol that were chanting for the vice president to be hung. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Let me pause here on this point. As rioters chanted hang Mike Pence, the president of the United States, Donald Trump, said that "Mike deserves it," and that those rioters were not doing anything wrong. This is a sentiment that he has expressed at other times as well. In an interview with ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl, President Trump was asked about the supporters chanting hang Mike Pence last year.
Instead of condemning them, the former president defended them. [Begin videotape]
JONATHAN KARL: Saying hang Mike Pence.
DONALD TRUMP: Because it's — it's common sense, Jon. It's common sense that you're supposed to protect — how can you — if you know a vote is fraudulent, right, how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress? [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: President Trump's view that the rioters were not doing anything wrong and that "Mike deserved it" helps us to understand why the president did not ask the rioters to leave the Capitol for multiple hours. In fact, he put this tweet out at 2:24 PM. Ms. Hutchinson, do you recall seeing this tweet, in which the president said the vice president did not have the courage to do what needed to be done?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I do.
LIZ CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson, what was your reaction when you saw this tweet?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: As a staffer that worked to always represent the administration to the best of my ability and to showcase the good things that he had done for the country, I remember feeling frustrated and disappointed, and really it felt personal. I — I was really sad. As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic.
It was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie, and it was something that was really hard in that moment to digest, knowing what I've been hearing down the hall and the conversations that were happening. Seeing that tweet come up and knowing what was happening on the Hill, and it's something that I — it's still — I still struggle to work through the emotions of that.
LIZ CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson, we have also spoken to multiple other White House staff about their reaction to Donald Trump's 2:24 tweet condemning Mike Pence for not having the courage to refuse to count electoral votes, an act that would have been illegal. Matthew Pottinger, a former Marine intelligence officer who served in the White House for four years, including — including as deputy national security adviser, was in the vicinity of the Oval Office at various points throughout the day.
When he saw that tweet, he immediately decided to resign his position. Let's watch him describe his reaction to the president's tweet. [Begin videotape]
MATTHEW POTTINGER: One of my staff brought me a printout of a tweet by the president, and the tweet said something to the effect that Mike Pence, the vice president, didn't have the courage to do what he — what should have been done. I — I read that tweet and made a decision at that moment to resign. That's where I knew that I was leaving that day once I read that tweet. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Ultimately, members of the White House staff, Sarah Matthews, Cabinet members Secretary Chao and Secretary DeVos resigned as well. Here is Secretary DeVos's resignation letter. As you can see, in resigning on January 6th, Secretary DeVos said to the president, "There's no mistaking the impact your rhetoric had on the situation, and it is the inflection point for me." Let's also look at Secretary Chao's resignation statement.
When Secretary Chao resigned, she spoke of the January 6th attack and she said, "As I am sure is the case with many of you, this is deeply troubled me in a way I simply cannot set aside." Ms. Hutchinson, in our prior interviews, we've asked you about what the president's advisers were urging him to do during the attack.
You've described roughly three different camps of thought inside the White House that day. Can you tell us about those?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: There was a group of individuals that were strongly urging him to take immediate and swift action. I would classify the White House Counsel's Office, Mr. Herschmann, Ms. Ivanka Trump in that category of really working to get him to take action and pleading with him to take action. There was a more neutral group where advisors were trying to toe the line, knowing that Mr. Trump didn't necessarily want to take immediate action and condemn the riots, but knowing something needed to be done.
And then there was the last group, which was deflect and blame. Let's blame Antifa. These aren't our people. It's my understanding that Mr. Meadows was in the deflect and blame category, but he did end up taking a more neutral route, knowing that there were several advisors in the president's circle urging him to take more action, which I think was reflected in the rhetoric released later that day in the videos.
LIZ CHENEY: You told us that the White House Counsel's Office was in the camp encouraging the president to tell the rioters to stop the attack and to leave the Capitol. Let's listen. [Begin videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: White House counsel's office wanted there to be a strong statement out to condemn the rioters. I'm confident in that. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Now let's look at just one example of what some senior advisers to the president were urging. Ms. Hutchinson, could you look at the exhibit that we're showing on the screen now? Have you seen this note before?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's a note that I wrote at the direction of the chief of staff on January 6th, likely around 3:00.
LIZ CHENEY: And it's written on a chief of staff note card, but that's your handwriting, Ms. Hutchinson?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's my handwriting.
LIZ CHENEY: And why did you write this note?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: The chief of staff was in a meeting with Eric Hirschman and potentially Mr. Philbin, and they had rushed out of the office fairly quickly. Mark had handed me the note card with one of his pens, and sort of dictating a statement for the president to potentially put out.
LIZ CHENEY: And — no, I'm sorry. Go ahead.
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's Ok. There are two phrases on there, one illegal and then one without proper authority. The illegal phrase was the one that Mr. Meadows had dictated to me. Mr. Herschmann had chimed in and said also put without legal authority. There should have been a slash between the two phrases. It was an — an or if the president had opted to put one of those statements out. Evidently he didn't. Later that afternoon, Mark came back from the Oval Dining Room and put the palm card on my desk with illegally crossed out, but said we didn't need to take further action on that statement.
LIZ CHENEY: So, to your knowledge, this statement was never issued.
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: It was — to my knowledge, it was never issued.
LIZ CHENEY: And Ms. Hutchinson, did you understand that Ivanka Trump wanted her father to send people home?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's my understanding, yes.
LIZ CHENEY: Let's play a clip of you addressing that issue. [Begin videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I remember her saying at various points, you know, she wants him — she wanted her dad to send them home. She wanted her dad to tell them to go home peacefully, and she wanted to include language that he necessarily wasn't on board with at the time. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: You will hear more about this at our later hearings, but we have evidence of many others imploring Donald Trump and Mark Meadows to take action. Here is some of that evidence, text messages sent to Mark Meadows during the attack. This is a text message at 2:32 from Laura Ingraham, hey, Mark, the president needs to tell people in the Capitol to go home.
In the next message, this is hurting all of us. And then, he's destroying his legacy and playing into every stereotype. We lose all credibility against the BLM/Antifa crowd if things go south. The president's son, Don Jr., also urgently contacted Mark Meadows at 2:53. He wrote, he's got to condemn this shit ASAP. The Capitol Police tweet is not enough.
As you will see, these are just two of the numerous examples of Trump supporters and allies urging the president to tell his supporters to leave, the Capitol. It would not have been hard for the president to simply walk down to the briefing room a few feet down the hall from the Oval Office, as Norah O'Donnell noted during an interview with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, where Leader McCarthy said he believed the attack was un-American. [Begin videotape]
NORAH O'DONNELL: I want to quickly bring in Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader. Leader McCarthy, do you condemn this violence?
KEVIN MCCARTHY: I completely condemn the violence in the Capitol. What we're currently watching unfold is un- American. I am — I'm disappointed. I'm sad. This is not what our country should look like. This is not who we are. This is not the First Amendment. This has to stop and this has to stop now.
NORAH O'DONNELL: Leader McCarthy, the president of the United States has a briefing room steps from the Oval Office. It is — the cameras are hot 24/7, as you know. Why hasn't he walked down and said that now?
KEVIN MCCARTHY: I — I conveyed to the president what I think is best to do, and I'm hopeful the president will do it. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Republican House member Mike Gallagher also implored the president to call off the attack. [Begin videotape]
MIKE GALLAGHER: Mr. President, you have got to stop this. You are the only person who can call this off. Call it off. The election is over. Call it off. This is bigger than you. It's bigger than any member of Congress. It is about the United States of America, which is more important than any politician. Call it off. It's over. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Despite the fact that many people close to Donald Trump were urging him to send people home, he did not do so until later, much later. At 4:17 PM, Donald Trump finally told the rioters to go home and that he loved them. Here's a portion of the video President Trump recorded from the White House. [Begin videotape]
DONALD TRUMP: We have to have peace, so go home. We love you. You're very special. You've seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel, but go home and go home in peace. [End videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: But as we will show in even greater detail in future hearings, Donald Trump was reluctant to put this message out and he still could not bring himself to condemn the attack. Ms. Hutchinson has told us that, too. [Begin Videotape]
The one that he put out at 4:17?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I'm sure you've discussed it. And just to elaborate if I hadn't already, at that point I recall him being reluctant to film the video on the 6th. I was not involved in any of the logistics or the planning for that video. I just remember seeing the video go out and feeling a little shocked after it went out. [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: On the evening of January 6th and the day after the President's family and his senior staff and others tried to encourage the President to condemn the violence and commit to the peaceful transition of power. At 3:31 p.m. on January 6th, Sean Hannity of Fox News texted Mark Meadows.
Mr. Hannity said quote, "Can he make a statement. I saw the tweet. Ask people to leave the [Capitol]." Later that evening Mr. Hannity sent another text message to Mark Meadows. This time he shared a link to a tweet. That tweet reported that President Trump's cabinet secretaries were considering invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office.
As you can see on the screen, the 25th Amendment to the Constitution creates a process for the transition of power if a President is unfit or unable to serve. The 25th Amendment has never been used to remove a President. But the committee has learned that after the attack on the US Capitol this was being discussed by members of President Trump's cabinet as a way of stripping the full power of the presidency from Donald Trump.
President Trump's supporters were worried. In addition to the tweet that he sent Mark Meadows after the attack, Sean Hannity apparently spoke with President Trump and warned him about what could happen. We understand that this text message that Sean Hannity sent to Kayleigh McEnany on January 7th shows what Mr. Hannity said to the President.
First, no more stolen election talk. Second, impeachment and 25th amendment are real. Many people will quit. Ms. Hutchinson, you told us that you were hearing about discussions related to the 25th amendment. Here's part of what you said. [Begin Videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Mr. Trump had every chance to have the conversation with Mr. Meadows in case he hadn't heard the discussions amongst cabinet secretaries. And from what I understand, it was more of a — this is what I'm hearing. I want you to be aware of it, but I also think it's worth putting on your radar because you are the Chief of Staff.
You're technically the boss of all the cabinet secretaries. And, you know, if the conversations progressed you should be ready to take action on this. I — I'm concerned for you and your positioning with this. Reach out to me if you have any questions or, like, if I can be helpful with you at all. [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Inside the White House the President's advisors, including members of his family, wanted him to deliver a speech to the country. Deputy White House counsel Pat Philbin prepared the first draft of what would be the President's remarks on national healing, delivered via pre-taped video on January 7th. When he arrived at the White House on the 7th, Mr. Philbin believed that more needed to be said.
So he sat down and started writing. He shared the draft with Pat Cipollone, who also believed the President needed to say more. Mr. Cipollone agreed with the content as did Eric Herschmann, who reviewed the draft. The committee has learned that the President did not agree with the substance as drafted and resisted giving a speech at all.
Ms. Hutchinson, do you recall discussions about the President's speech on January 7th?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I do.
LIZ CHENEY: Let's listen, Ms. Hutchison, to what you told us about that and about the process of crafting those remarks. [Begin Videotape]
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I learned from a conversation with Mark and overhearing between him and White House Counsel and Eric Herschmann as well that Trump didn't necessarily think he needed to do anything more on the 7th than what he had already done on the 6th. When he was convinced to put out a video on the 7th he — I understand that he had a lot of opinions about what the context of that announcement were to entail.
I had original drafts of the speech where, you know, there were — several lines didn't make it in there about prosecuting the rioters or calling them violent. He didn't want that in there. He wanted to put in there that he wanted to par — potentially pardon them. And this is just with the increased emphasis of his mindset at the time which was he didn't think that they did anything wrong.
He — the people who did something wrong that day or the person who did something wrong that day was Mike Pence by not standing with him. [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: But the President's advisors urged him to give the speech. [Begin Videotape]
UNKNOWN: Who convinced him to do the video on the 7th?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I'm not sure who convinced him or if it was a group of people that convinced him.
UNKNOWN: Who was in the group that you're aware of?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That I'm aware of, Mark, Ivanka, Jared Kushner, Eric Herschmann, Pat Cipollone, Pat Philbin. Those are the people that I'm aware of.
UNKNOWN: Do you know why that group of people thought it was necessary for him to release a statement?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I believe Kayleigh McEnany as well. From what I understood at the time and from what the reports were coming in there was a large concern of the 25th amendment potentially being invoked and there were concerns about what would happen in the Senate if it was — if the 25th was invoked. So the primary reason that I had heard other than, you know, we did not do enough on the 6th, we need to get a stronger message out there and condemn this is — otherwise this will be your legacy.
The secondary reasons to that was, you know, think about what might happen in the final 15 days of your presidency if we don't do this. There's already talks about invoking the 25th amendment. You need this as cover. [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: The President ultimately delivered the remarks. Unlike many of his other speeches, he did not adlib much.
He recited them without significant alteration except one. Even then on January 7th, 2021, the day after the attack on the US Capitol, the President still could not bring himself to say, quote, "But this election is now over." One other point about the speech, Ms. Hutchinson. Did you hear that Mr. Trump at one point wanted to add language about pardoning those who took part in the January 6th riot?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I did hear that, and I understand that Mr. Mead — that Mr. Meadows was encouraging that language as well.
LIZ CHENEY: Thank you. And here's what you told us previously about that. [Begin Videotape]
UNKNOWN: You said he was instructed not to include it. Who was instructing him not to include language about the pardon in that January 7th speech?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I understood from White House Counsel's Office coming to our office that morning that they didn't think that it was a good idea to include that in the speech.
UNKNOWN: That being Pat Cipollone?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: That's correct. And Eric Herschmann. [End Videotape]
LIZ CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson, did Rudy Giuliani ever suggest that he was interested in receiving a Presidential pardon related to January 6th?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: He did.
LIZ CHENEY: Ms. Hutchinson did White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ever indicate that he was interested in receiving a Presidential pardon related to January 6th?
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Mr. Meadows did seek that pardon. Yes, ma'am.
LIZ CHENEY: Thank you, Ms. Hutchinson. Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
BENNIE THOMPSON: I want to thank our witness for joining us today. The members of the select committee may have additional questions for today's witness and we ask that you respond expeditiously in writing to those questions. Without objections, members will be permitted 10 business days to submit statements for the record, including opening remarks and additional questions for the witness.
Without objection the Chair recognizes the Vice Chair for a closing statement.
LIZ CHENEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to begin by thanking Ms. Hutchinson for her testimony today. We are all in her debt. Our nation is preserved by those who abide by their oaths to our Constitution. Our nation is preserved by those who know the fundamental difference between right and wrong. And I want all Americans to know that what Ms. Hutchinson has done today is not easy.
The easy course is to hide from the spotlight, to refuse to come forward, to attempt to downplay or deny what happened. That brings me to a different topic. While our committee has seen many witnesses, including many Republicans, testify fully and forthrightly this has not been true of every witness. And we have received evidence of one particular practice that raises significant concern.
Our committee commonly asks witnesses connected to Mr. Trump's Administration or campaign whether they've been contacted by any of their former colleagues or anyone else who attempted to influence or impact their testimony. Without identifying any of the individuals involved, let me show you a couple of samples of answers we received to this question.
First, here is how one witness described phone calls from people interested in that witness' testimony. Quote, "What they said to me is 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." "And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts.
And just keep that in mind as I proceed through my interviews with the committee." Here's another sample in a different context. This is a call received by one of our witnesses. Quote, "A person let me know you have your deposition tomorrow." "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." I think most Americans know that attempting to influence witnesses to testify untruthfully presents very serious concerns.
We will be discussing these issues as a committee, carefully considering our next steps. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I yield back.
BENNIE THOMPSON: Gentlewoman yields back. Ms. Hutchinson, thank you. Thank you for doing your patriotic duty and helping the American people get a complete understanding of January 6th and its causes. Thank you for your courage in testifying here today. You have the gratitude of this committee and your country. I know it wasn't easy to sit here today and answer these questions.
But after hearing your testimony in all its candor and detail, I want to speak directly to the handful of witnesses who have been outliers in our investigation. The small number who have defied us outright, those whose memories have failed them again and again on the most important details, and to those who fear Donald Trump and his enablers.
Because of this courageous woman and others like her, your attempt to hide the truth from the American people will fail. And to that group of witnesses, if you've heard this testimony today and suddenly you remember things you couldn't previously recall, or there are some details you'd like to clarify, or you discovered some courage you had hidden away somewhere, our doors remain open.
The select committee will reconvene in the weeks ahead as we continue to lay out our findings to the American people. The Chair requests those in the hearing room to remain seated until the Capitol Police have escorted the witness and members from the room. Without objection, the committee stands adjourned.