The Secret Service said it would soon respond to the House select committee investigating last year’s Capitol riot after former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson claimed President Donald Trump made a “lunge” at his protection officer when he was unable to join his supporters at the Capitol that day.
“The United States Secret Service has been cooperating with the Select Committee since its inception in spring 2021 and will continue to do so, including by responding on the record to the Committee regarding the new allegations surfaced in [Tuesday’s] testimony,” spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement.
Hutchinson, a top aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified that after she returned to the West Wing following Trump’s speech at the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the riot, White House deputy chief of staff for operations Tony Ornato told her about a clash inside the SUV the president was using that day.
“I looked at Tony, and he said, ‘Did you f—ing hear what happened in the Beast?’” Hutchinson said, using the nickname for the vehicle.
Nobody had told Trump that the Secret Service had determined it wasn’t possible to go to the Capitol as the president had wanted, said Hutchinson, who explained that Trump was in the vehicle with Secret Service agent Bobby Engel.
“So when the president had gotten into the vehicle with Bobby, he thought that they were going up to the Capitol. And when Bobby had relayed to him, ‘We’re not, we don’t have the assets to do it, it’s not secure, we’re going back to the West Wing,’ the president had a very strong and very angry response to that,” Hutchinson added.
“Tony described him as being irate. The president said something to the effect of ‘I’m the f—ing president! Take me up to the Capitol now!’ To which Bobby responded, ‘Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing.’”
Hutchinson then claimed that Trump reached toward the front of the Beast to grab the steering wheel before Engel said, “Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol.”
“Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson said.
Trump disputed Hutchinson’s accusation, saying in a statement: “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, very much like the Unselect Committee itself – Wouldn’t even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing.”
An unnamed source close to the Secret Service also denied the account to multiple news organizations — including ABC, CBS and NBC, adding that both Engel and the SUV’s driver were willing to testify under oath. On Wednesday, NBC News reported that the two men did not deny Trump was irate and demanded to be taken to the Capitol following the rally.
At least one source close to Ornato alleged to Fox News that he was surprised when Hutchinson testified that Trump reached for the steering wheel of the car.
Engel and Ornato have both provided closed-door testimony to the committee, according to multiple reports. Those sessions were reportedly recorded.