It seemed to be an explosive testimony from a person who was at one time close to former President Donald Trump that helped paint a picture of a chief executive out of control.
But within hours of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, part of her story was called into question.
Hutchinson recalled that Tony Ornato, a former White House aide, allegedly told her that Trump was enraged he would not be driven to the Capitol and tried to grab the wheel of the presidential limo.
However, on Tuesday night, NBC News’ Peter Alexander tweeted that Secret Service agents were prepared to testify that it never happened.
🚨 A source close to the Secret Service tells me both Bobby Engel, the lead agent, and the presidential limousine/SUV driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Mr. Trump never lunged for the steering wheel.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) June 28, 2022
ABC News’ John Santucci also reported that agents were expected to push back on the story. Meanwhile, CNN’s Gabby Orr reported that Ornato was prepared to testify that he did not tell Hutchinson that story.
So in the wake of individuals suggesting that Hutchinson lied under oath about being told a wild story about Trump, how did the Jan. 6 committee respond?
A spokesperson told CNN, “The Committee trusts the credibility of a witness who was willing to testify under oath [and] in public but is also willing to hear any information that others may have that would aid in their investigation.”
Notice that there’s nothing that states the committee tried to corroborate her claims or tries back up her testimony. Instead, it just says that it relies on her credibility because she was willing to testify under oath.
It is worth asking if she was lying, would she really be charged with lying to Congress for sharing an anecdote that furthers the committee’s narrative? We may soon find out.
A committee spox tells @CNN: “The Committee trusts the credibility of a witness who was willing to testify under oath & in public but is also willing to hear any information that others may have that would aid in their investigation.” https://t.co/WqxSCcysgf
— Gabby Orr (@GabbyOrr_) June 29, 2022
Hutchinson had already provided taped testimony before the committee. And it was set to take a break from its hearings until July. And then suddenly, on Monday, it made a surprise announcement that it would hold a hearing “to present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony.”
So what changed? What was so new or shocking that transpired in recent days that the committee felt it had to schedule this hearing right away?
There were other damaging parts of Hutchinson’s testimony, such as when she told the committee that Trump was aware that protesters were armed and still urged them to march to the Capitol.
However, all of her testimony may be called into question now if it turns out she lied about the limo story.
Aside from the limo story, another part of Hutchinson’s first-hand testimony is being called into question already.
Former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann is disputing Hutchinson’s testimony that she wrote a potential statement for Trump to release as the riot at the Capitol was underway. ABC News reports that a source close to Herschmann said he already told the committee that he wrote that potential statement.
This raises the question: Did she lie about those parts of her testimony? And if she did, what else did she lie about?
Interestingly, Hutchinson reportedly hired a new lawyer before her testimony, and her previous attorney had pushed back on the idea of publicly cooperating with the panel.
For the most part, the committee has done a pretty good job of just laying out a damning story of Jan. 6 and the events leading up to it without grandstanding and crazy, explosive stories that seem to make no sense.
But if it rushed out Hutchinson’s testimony after a year of investigating the riot without seeming to corroborate it, what other information did they put out that was not corroborated? It already got caught altering text messages, so what other evidence might they have manipulated?
Hutchinson’s testimony just shoved the door wide open for conservatives to attack the committee and claim that it really was just a partisan witch hunt all along, that it really does not want the truth but instead is just out to get Trump even if that means using made up stories to do it.
Unless it can prove that Hutchinson’s story is true and corroborated, Tuesday’s hearing may have done irreparable damage to its goal of laying out a definitive history of Jan. 6 that might have even changed some conservatives’ minds.
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