Trump now says Mark Meadows’ ‘whackjob’ aide Cassidy Hutchinson has ‘mental problems’ and insists he wouldn’t lunge at Secret Service agents because ‘they lift 350 lbs – and I don’t’
- Donald Trump sat down for his first on-camera interview since former White House senior staffer Cassidy Hutchinson’s explosive January 6 testimony
- Hutchinson claimed that Trump attempted to force his entourage – even physically – to accompany his furious supporters to the US Capitol
- Trump said Hutchinson was ‘living in a fantasy land’ while disputing her account
- He would not use her name during the interview, instead calling her ‘the woman’
Speaking to Newsmax on Thursday, The former president disputed Hutchinson’s claim that he ‘lunged’ for the steering wheel of his limo and then at a Secret Service agent after they refused to follow his supporters to the US Capitol the day of last year’s insurrection.
Trump said he couldn’t have attacked an agent, bluntly stating, ‘these guys lift 350 pounds – I don’t.’
Hutchinson, the 25-year-old former assistant to Trump’s then-White House chief of staff, delivered testimony on Tuesday that paints a picture of a lame duck leader who urged his furious supporters to march on the Capitol where lawmakers were certifying President Joe Biden‘s electoral victory.
She was apparently at the center of a battle between sensible elected officials and Trump and his allies over whether the former president would accompany them to the Capitol.
Her testimony is central to the January 6 committee’s argument that the Capitol attack was not a sudden incident but rather the culmination of Trump and his allies’ ‘last stand’ in a wider plot to upend US democracy and stay in power.
But on Thursday Trump undermined Hutchinson as a ‘climber’ who was rejected from a role in the Trump Organization and claimed without reasoning that the committee as a whole is ‘illegal.’
Donald Trump dismissed Cassidy Hutchinson as a ‘climber’ who he passed over for a job at the Trump Organization because he allegedly heard she was ‘bad’
Hutchinson also claimed Trump knew his supporters were armed that day – and was ‘furious’ that they could not get into the official grounds for his Stop The Steal rally immediately before the riot.
‘Who cares if they have weapons, they’re not here to hurt me,’ she recalled hearing Trump say upon being told that some rally attendees were being kept out of the area because they could not get through the security checkpoint due to being armed. She said Trump complained it made the crowd look smaller.
The former president disputed her account on Thursday morning, insisting he ‘didn’t want other people to get hurt’ – and that the crowd was among the largest he’s ever spoken to.
‘This lady yesterday – there’s something wrong with her. Is there something wrong?’ the former president said. ‘She said I jumped from a car and I started strangling – think of this – I started strangling a Secret Service agent who I know very well?’
He continued, ‘And that I wanted guns at my rally? I didn’t want guns. I have to speak too, and I don’t want guns for anybody.’
‘The woman is living in fantasy land. She’s a social climber – if you call that social. I think it’s just a shame that this is happening to our country,’ Trump said.
The 25-year-old was the January 6 committee’s star witness at an explosive hearing on Tuesday
Trump pointed out that both Robert Engel, who was Trump’s head of security that he allegedly lunged at, and former deputy Chief of Staff Anthony Ornato, who Hutchinson said told her the limo story, are reportedly prepared to dispute some or all of her account.
He claimed they were ’embarrassed’ by Hutchinson’s testimony.
‘These are people – these are great people. These are great people. They’ve devoted their lives to it. And I think they were very embarrassed by it, because it makes them sound terrible,’ Trump said.
‘They’re great. I know them very well.’
He added that it was ‘very nice that they came to my defense.’
The Secret Service has also told multiple outlets that it plans to respond to the allegations.
‘Because you know, some whackjob can just say this stuff and get away with it?’ Trump continued before returning to the allegation about firearms.
She testified that Trump ‘lunged’ for the steering wheel of his limo and then for a Secret Service agent’s throat while shouting, ‘I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now’
‘And other things – that I wanted guns at my rally. Okay, now, I’m speaking – why would I want guns? I don’t want people having – standing with guns in my rally.’
He said Hutchinson ‘wasn’t complaining’ at the time – despite her detailing her efforts before the committee to keep Trump from marching on the Capitol.
‘And the other thing about this woman, she wanted to work for me after January 6. She was a big Trump fan. She wanted to work for me in Florida, and we chose not to bring her down because I got very bad things,’ Trump claimed.
Trump said ‘numerous people’ told him Hutchinson was ‘not good’ but declined to elaborate further.
‘I think the woman is – she’s got serious problems, let me put it that way. Mental problems.’
January 6 committee Vice Chair Rep. Liz Cheney said she was ‘absolutely confident’ in Hutchinson in a clip from an ABC News interview that aired on Thursday.
Hutchinson also claimed that Trump knew that at least some of his supporters were armed when he encouraged them to march on the Capitol on January 6
‘I think that what Cassidy Hutchinson did was an unbelievable example of bravery and of courage and patriotism in the face of real pressure,’ Cheney said.
Cheney suggested during Tuesday’s explosive hearing that the panel had evidence of Trump and his allies’ attempts to pressure witnesses in their investigation.
‘Our committee commonly asks witnesses connected to Mr. Trump’s administration or campaign whether they’ve been contacted by any of their former colleagues or anyone else who attempted to influence or impact their testimony,’ Cheney said.
She then displayed two messages. The first, from an unnamed witness, said they were told ‘as long as I continue to be a team player…I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World.’
They also said they were asked to ‘keep in mind’ that Trump ‘does read transcripts’ as they ‘proceeded through my depositions and interviews with the committee.’
The second message, apparently sent to a witness the day before their deposition, states: ‘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…’