Doubts cast over Jan. 6 witness’s testimony disputing Trump grabbed wheel of SUV

WEX Jan. 6 Committee Hearing / Cassidy Hutchinson - 062822
Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, speaks at a hearing with the House select committee on the Jan. 6 riot. (Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner)

Doubts cast over Jan. 6 witness’s testimony disputing Trump grabbed wheel of SUV

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In the final report detailing its findings regarding the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, House lawmakers included a number of claims and testimony they found questionable and unreliable, according to an executive summary of the report.

One such claim the committee found questionable was counter-testimony from former President Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato, who disputed reports that Trump had attempted to grab the wheel of the presidential SUV to join his supporters at the Capitol on Jan. 6. That testimony emerged from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson when she testified before the committee earlier this summer.

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“The Select Committee found multiple parts of Ornato’s testimony questionable,” the executive summary stated. “The Select Committee finds it difficult to believe that neither Meadows nor Ornato told Trump, as was their job, about the intelligence that was emerging as the January 6th rally approached.”

The testimony emerged during a public hearing over the summer, when Hutchinson testified to the committee that Trump was aware of the threats of violence at the Capitol on the day of the riot. Hutchinson’s testimony centered on information that Ornato had told the White House aide at the time.

“So, Ms. Hutchinson, is it your understanding that Mr. Ornato told the president about weapons at the rally on the morning of Jan. 6?” Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney asked.

“That is what Mr. Ornato relayed to me,” Hutchinson replied.

Hutchinson then recalled an incident inside the presidential SUV in which Trump acted “furious” and “irate,” according to several witnesses. During that interaction, the former president allegedly attempted to grab the steering wheel and go to the Capitol building to join his supporters.

“Hutchinson heard about the exchange second-hand and related what she heard in our June 28, 2022, hearing from Ornato,” the report stated. “The Committee has regarded both Hutchinson and the corroborating testimony by the White House employee with national security responsibilities as earnest and has no reason to conclude that either had a reason to invent their accounts.”

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The Jan. 6 committee concluded that based on this testimony, along with other testimony from that day, Trump had intentions to join his supporters at the Capitol riot and “lead the attempt to overturn the election either from inside the House Chamber, from a stage outside the Capitol, or otherwise,” the report states.

The Jan. 6 committee voted on Monday to release its full report to the public detailing its findings from its yearlong investigation into the Capitol riot. The panel began releasing portions of the report on Wednesday and is expected to continue publishing materials over the coming days.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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