Donald Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of his presidential limousine on Jan. 6, 2021, when his security detail declined to take him to the US Capitol where his supporters were rioting, a former aide testified on Tuesday.
The then-president dismissed concerns that some supporters gathered for his fiery speech outside the White House that day carried AR-15-style rifles, instead asking security to stop screening attendees with metal-detecting magnetometers so the crowd would look larger, the aide testified.
“Take the effing mags away; they’re not here to hurt me,” Cassidy Hutchinson, who was a top aide to Trump’s then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, quoted the former president as saying that morning.
Hutchinson, in testimony on the sixth day of House of Representatives hearings into the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol assault by Trump’s followers, said the conversation was relayed to her by Tony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official who was Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations.
The New York Times and NBC, citing sources in the Secret Service, said the head of Trump’s security detail, Robert Engel, and the limousine driver were prepared to testify under oath that Trump never lunged for the steering wheel. Engel was in the room when Ornato relayed the story, Hutchinson said.
The New York Times and CNN, citing unnamed sources, said Ornato also denied the story and was willing to testify.
Citing her conversation with Ornato, Hutchinson testified that Trump struggled with Secret Service agents who insisted he return to the White House rather than join supporters storming the Capitol where Congress was meeting to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over him in the presidential election.
Trump’s supporters were roused by his false claims that his 2020 election defeat was the result of fraud.
“‘I’m the effing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,'” Hutchinson quoted an enraged Trump as saying. She said Trump tried from the back seat to grab the steering wheel of the heavily armored presidential vehicle and lunged in anger at a Secret Service official.
Trump, a Republican, denied her account of his actions.
“Her Fake story that I tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House Limousine in order to steer it to the Capitol Building is ‘sick’ and fraudulent,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, his social media app.
Source: Agencies (edited by Al-Manar English Website)