Jan. 6 Hearing Testimony: Trump Knew There Were Weapons in the Crowd But Still Demanded They Be Allowed To March To The Capitol
[guest post by Dana]
Damning testimony today from Cassidy Hutchinson, the onetime aide to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows:
In a videotaped testimony, Hutchinson said that when she attended the Jan. 6 rally at the White House ellipse, she overheard a conversation with the president saying he knew people had “many weapons.”
“When we were in the off-stage announce tent, I was part of a conversation … I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, ‘You know, I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing [magnetometers] away,'” Hutchinson said during her testimony,
“He said something to the effect of, you know, eff the Secret Service. I’m the president. Take the effing mags away. They’re not here to hurt me,'” she added.
Hutchinson also said the White House counsel’s office was worried about Trump’s plans to march to the Capitol would cause legal issues, and were concerned about lines in Trump’s speech that day, including telling people to march on the Capitol and to “fight.”
Trump was informed people were armed by Tony Ornato, his deputy chief of staff for operations who oversaw all security at the White House, according to Hutchinson. She said that Meadows did not act on the information.
Police radio transmissions played by the Jan. 6th committee revealed that among the thousands of people attending the Stop the Steal rally before the attack on the Capitol, some were armed with AR-15s and glocks, including someone in a tree that Secret Service was aware of who had an AR-15.
Hutchinson testified that she had heard reports of D.C. police arresting people with firearms or ammunition on the night of Jan. 5 at a pro-Trump rally on Freedom Plaza.
Cassidy Hutchinson: "I overheard the president say something to the effect of, 'I don't effing care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in, they can march to the Capitol from here.'" pic.twitter.com/42RRdO7dNh
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 28, 2022
Hutchinson’s testimony leads to the question of incitement. An expert weighs in:
Renato is right. If they feel comfortable that they can prove he said that, I think it goes a long way to meeting the Brandenburg test for incitement. He knows they're armed and wants them to be armed because he knows they'll target other people.https://t.co/1hV6ohsLOJ
— BrandenburgTestHat (@Popehat) June 28, 2022
And before huffy cries of hearsay!are made (looking at you, House Judiciary GOP), I’ll leave you with Prof. Vladeck’s response :
She’s testifying to conversations in which *she* participated. That’s not hearsay. Party admissions are an exception to hearsay. She’s testifying under oath and under penalty of perjury; you’re just whining under neither.
Hutchinson’s testimony was jarring today because Trump and the White House knew that there were weapons in the crowd and that there was going to be violence but chose not to stop it before it was too late. Because, despite knowing about the weapons and violence, Trump wasn’t concerned because a) he knew that he wasn’t going to be targeted, and b) I believe that on some level he hoped the crowd would go after those he was convinced had wronged him. Not necessarily with weapons but certainly with intimidation and force. He didn’t care about anyone’s safety but his own. If Congress was targeted, so be it. If the Capitol police were targeted, so be it. If Mike Pence was targeted, well, good, he deserved it:
Former President Donald Trump said that former Vice President Mike Pence “deserved” it as rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence” at the Capitol on January 6, according to a former White House aide.
Cassidy Hutchinson…said Tuesday that she heard a conversation between Meadows and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and in which Meadows said that Trump was happy with the rioters.
“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,'” Hutchinson said. “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.”
According to Hutchinson, Cipllione warned:
“Something needs to be done, or somebody is going to die and this is going to be on your effing hands.”
At the close of today’s hearing, a troubling presentation of witness tampering was made:
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming offered the two examples of apparent witness tampering at the end of a surprise hearing held by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
Cheney shared two messages that she said witnesses had received ahead of their depositions. The witnesses, who Cheney didn’t name, subsequently shared the messages with the committee.
“What they said to me is as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that I’m on the team, I’m doing the right thing, I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in the good graces in Trump world,” the first text message read. “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 depositions and interviews with the committee.”
A separate witness warning from Trumpworld came in the form of a phone call…
“[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that 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,” the caller said.
Witness tampering is a federal crime.