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House GOP report details testimony that contradicted key Jan. 6 witness

House Republicans’ review of the House Jan. 6 committee’s work found inconsistencies between the never-released testimony of a Secret Service agent and key portions of testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and perhaps the committee’s most prominent witness.

In explosive testimony to the House Select Jan. 6 Committee, Hutchinson said she had been told by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Anthony Ornato that then-President Donald Trump had lunged toward his Secret Service detail leader, Bobby Engel, inside a vehicle after Trump was informed he could not accompany a crowd as it marched to the Capitol after Trump’s speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021.

But the agent who drove Trump and Engel to and from the speech disputed Hutchinson’s testimony, saying he “did not see him reach [redacted]. [President Trump] never grabbed the steering wheel. I didn’t see him, you know, lunge to try to get into the front seat at all,” according to a copy of the full transcript provided to The Washington Post.

“You know, what stood out was the irritation in his voice more than — more than his physical presence, which would have been pretty obvious if he was trying to insert himself between the two front seats,” the driver added.

The driver testified on Nov. 7, 2022 — months after Hutchinson’s blockbuster testimony — and the transcript was never publicly released due to an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security over its internal review of the transcripts, according to the 81-page report released Monday by the House Administration subcommittee on oversight. DHS only recently provided committee investigators with the redacted transcript, along with five other redacted transcripts, after the subcommittee initially demanded all transcripts be turned over last summer. The department is still reviewing six transcripts from Secret Service agents with firsthand knowledge of Jan. 6, 2021, according to the report.

Republicans in the report underscored revisions made by Hutchinson over the course of multiple interviews she provided to the Jan. 6 panel under oath, and criticized the committee for failing to corroborate Hutchinson’s story before rushing it out to share in a public hearing. At the time, investigators on the committee were uncomfortable with the decision to go public with her testimony, The Post previously reported, with one person involved with the investigation calling the airing of the story of Trump lunging at a Secret Service agent an “unforced error” that detracted from the bigger picture.

A lawyer for Hutchinson defended her in a letter to the subcommittee, saying she had previously explained the changes to her testimony under oath. Hutchinson described “the pressure she faced, including how her prior Trump-funded counsel advised her to be ‘loyal’ to the ‘boss,’ and that Mr. Trump regularly received reports of testimony,” according to the letter.

The letter also noted that the Jan. 6 committee’s report “identifies multiple witnesses” who described Trump as “irritated” and “furious” while in the vehicle after his speech at the Ellipse. But the letter does not offer any more information about Hutchinson’s testimony about the alleged lunge.

The Jan. 6 committee, impaneled by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), had been tasked with investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters. But when Republicans took over the House majority in 2023, they opened an investigation into the committee’s work, lambasting it as a partisan effort.

Other unreleased testimony provided by four White House employees, and reviewed by the oversight subcommittee, also did not corroborate claims made by Hutchinson about Trump lunging for the steering wheel after his speech at the Ellipse, according to the report released Monday.

One White House employee testified that Ornato described Trump’s mood after the speech as “irate,” according to the subcommittee’s report. Republicans concluded that it was “highly improbable’ that staffers “would have heard about the President’s mood in the SUV following his speech at the Ellipse but not heard the sensational story” that Hutchinson claimed Ornato told her. The report accused the Jan. 6 committee of selectively citing and repressing full testimony that contradicts claims made in the committee’s final report.

“Many of these White House and USSS employees were either with President Trump or aware of his actions on January 6, yet none of their witness transcripts were archived with the House Clerk or provided to the Subcommittee,” investigators wrote. “Notably, the Select Committee published over 200 transcripts online, but did not publish these select transcripts.”

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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