A former White House staffer on Tuesday took center stage in the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, delivering the most revealing testimony yet about President Donald Trump’s response.
Seated before members of the House select committee investigating the insurrection, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified that Trump knew the crowd had weapons at his rally on Jan. 6, 2021 — and he encouraged them to march to the U.S. Capitol anyway.
Her testimony came with only a day’s notice. But with Meadows and others in Trump’s orbit refusing to appear before the committee, Hutchinson provided many details about what she saw and heard from behind the scenes as the Capitol attack unfolded.
The president, she said, urged the Secret Service to remove the security magnetometers that attendees at the rally had to pass through to hear him from within the rally’s secure perimeter. She said she overheard Trump say that those on the outside with weapons were “not here to hurt me.”
After the rally, Hutchinson said, Trump was so intent on going to the Capitol himself that he tried to grab control of the steering wheel as Secret Service drove him back to the White House. Hutchinson had sat for four recorded interviews with the committee, but Tuesday’s hearing was the first time she appeared before the committee for a live hearing.
As Hutchinson spoke, Trump posted on his Truth Social app in an attempt to distance himself from her.
“I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and ‘leaker’), and when she requested to go with certain others of the team to Florida after my having served a full term in office, I personally turned her request down,” Trump wrote.
He also disputed aspects of Hutchinson’s testimony, including her recollection of his statement on guns in the crowd and his attempt to take control of the steering wheel — even as her testimony was under oath.
Who is Hutchinson?
Hutchinson told Congress she was the principal aide to Meadows in his role as chief of staff, a position he assumed in the final months of Trump’s presidency.
Hutchinson was in contact with Meadows “pretty much throughout every day consistently,” she testified. The committee showed a map of her desk in the White House’s West Wing, which she described as a five to 10 second walk down the hall from the Oval Office. The committee also showed a photo of Hutchinson with Trump and others aboard Air Force One.
“We spent a lot of time on the Hill,” Hutchinson said of her role. “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.”
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Hutchinson joined the White House in 2019 as a staff assistant with the Office of Legislative Affairs, according to an introduction from Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. Before that, she interned for Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Cheney said. Hutchinson was promoted in 2020 and served as an aide to Meadows.
According to the Washington Post, the New Jersey native hasn’t held a full-time job since the Trump administration departed the White House.
The committee subpoenaed Hutchinson in November 2021. She was with Trump when he went to speak at the Jan. 6 rally. She also reportedly reached out directly via email and phone to Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs about a trip Meadows took to Georgia to attend an election audit.
“Ms. Hutchinson was in a position to know a great deal about the happenings in the Trump White House,” Cheney said during the June 28 hearing.
When she was a senior at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia, Hutchinson was the subject of a 2018 profile shared on the university’s website after she’d served as a White House intern.
Hutchinson said: “As a first-generation college student, being selected to serve as an intern alongside some of the most intelligent and driven students from across the nation — many of whom attend top universities — was an honor and a tremendous growing experience.”
Hutchinson worked for the Office of Legislative Affairs and said that her days often began with a strategy meeting with White House senior staff.
“I attended numerous events hosted by the president, such as signing ceremonies, celebrations and presidential announcements, and frequently watched Marine One depart the South Lawn from my office window,” she told the university newsroom. “My small contribution to the quest to maintain American prosperity and excellence is a memory I will hold as one of the honors of my life.”
In interviews with the committee earlier this year, Hutchinson testified about meetings held by White House officials and Trump allies after he lost the election, including about the idea floated by some allies to create a slate of alternate electors.
In battleground states where Trump lost, Republicans gathered as purported electors to sign certificates falsely attesting that Trump won and submitted them for approval to Congress.
Hutchinson testified that, at some meetings, White House attorneys would say they could look at the idea of alternate electors. But in other meetings, counsel said, “That’s not legal, we’re not putting ourselves in that line of fire.”
Those who worked with Hutchinson praised her
As Trump attacked Hutchinson, other pro-Trump voices joined the chorus.
A Twitter account associated with the House Republicans tweeted that Hutchinson’s sworn testimony was “all hearsay evidence.” The Gateway Pundit, a far-right blog site, called Hutchinson a “grifter.” Conservative commentator John Cardillo tweeted that Hutchinson was “a glorified receptionist and coffee fetcher.”
Ex-officials who worked with Trump or former Vice President Mike Pence came to Hutchinson’s defense.
Sarah Matthews, a former Trump spokesperson, told PolitiFact that any suggestion that Hutchinson held an “insignificant role is absolutely false.” Hutchinson sat in on important meetings with Meadows and traveled with him — whether it was on Air Force One or to the Hill.
“She was with Mark Meadows constantly and essentially his right hand and a very close confidante of his, even though she was pretty young,” Matthews said. “Her title might be misleading, people might overlook her, but her title did not exemplify all the duties she carried out for Mr. Meadows — she was definitely more than an executive assistant.”
Matthews described Hutchinson as “extremely mature for her age, highly intelligent, very personable.”
Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former Pence press secretary and special assistant to Trump, tweeted: “Cassidy Hutchinson is my friend. I knew her testimony would be damning. I had no idea it’d be THIS damning. I am so grateful for her courage & integrity. To anyone who would try to impugn her character, I’d be glad to put you in touch w/ @January6thCmte to appear UNDER OATH.”
Griffin told PolitiFact in a text that Hutchinson, 26, was a “consummate West Wing insider” and Meadows’ “right hand woman.”
“She was known as an incredibly hard and loyal worker — arriving as early as 6 am and often staying until after midnight. She flew all over the country on AF1 with the president. She was well liked and well respected. Always moving a million miles a minute. She was also on a first-name basis with most Republican members of Congress, and was plugged in throughout Republican circles.”
Olivia Troye, a former homeland security and counterterrorism advisor to Pence, tweeted, “having worked w/ Cassidy Hutchinson, I know she was very dedicated to her role while working for Mark Meadows in the Trump White House. She has nothing to hide & no reason to lie about those who knew what they were doing was wrong & sought pardons. Americans should believe her.”
Bill McCarthy and Amy Sherman. Hana Stepnick, PolitiFact staff writer contributed to this article.