Although the details of those who heard the accounts differ, Secret Service sources say they were told an angry confrontation had occurred. And their accounts align with significant parts of Hutchinson’s testimony, which has been attacked as hearsay by Trump and his allies who have also tried to discredit his overall testimony.
As Hutchinson, a source, a longtime Secret Service employee, told CNN that agents relaying the story described Trump as “demanding” and that the former president said something similar to, “I’m The fucking President of the United States, you can’t tell me what to do.” The source said he initially heard this type of language was used shortly after the incident.
“He had kind of rushed forward – from the conversations I had it wasn’t clear that he actually made physical contact, but he may have. . I don’t know,” the source said. “Nobody said Trump assaulted him; they said he tried to throw himself over the seat – for what reason, nobody had a clue.”
The employee said he heard about the incident several times as early as February 2021 from other officers, some of whom were part of the Presidential Protection Group during that time, but none of whom were involved in the incident. ‘incident.
The source added that officers often told stories of Trump’s temper tantrums, including the former president throwing and breaking things.
The other Secret Service source, who spoke to the driver and another agent who was not there, said he heard of Trump verbally picking on his details, but not of a physical altercation. Neither source told CNN they had heard of Trump trying to grab the steering wheel.
Three of those present for the meeting in the presidential SUV, a modified armored version of a Chevrolet Suburban were Trump, ringleader Robert “Bobby” Engel and the driver whose identity is not publicly known at this time. .
She testified that Ornato told her that Engel repeatedly informed Trump on his way back to the White House after Trump’s Ellipse speech that he was unsure about going to Capitol Hill.
According to Hutchinson, Ornato recounted Trump yelling, “I’m the fucking president. Take me to the Capitol now.” Trump then “reached out to the front of the vehicle to grab the steering wheel,” Hutchinson recalled, saying Ornato. She added that, according to Ornato, Trump used his other hand to “rush” Engel.
Hutchinson also testified that Trump and his boss, then-president’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, were aware of the possibility of violence on Jan. 6, 2021, and that Trump supporters had weapons when they gathered. on the Ellipse that day.
Both Engel and Ornato testified before the committee behind closed doors, but their statements were not used in Tuesday’s hearing.
Neither Engel nor Ornato have publicly commented on Hutchinson’s testimony.
Another Secret Service official previously told CNN that Engel denied that Trump grabbed the wheel or rushed to an agent on his details, and that Ornato denied saying the same to Hutchinson. The official did not dispute that Trump ordered his agents to take him to the Capitol.
Ornato has a close relationship with Trump and his team, having served as chief of his protective service and then being granted an unusual leave of absence from secret service duties to be seconded to the White House as deputy chief of staff for operations. .
Hutchinson’s account of the alleged incident was among the most shocking parts of Tuesday’s hearing – adding to an already damning portrayal of how desperate Trump was to get to the Capitol at the time.
Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, a committee member, said officers can come to the panel and challenge claims under oath.
“Nobody is denying that the president wanted to go to the Capitol where this armed mob was attacking Congress and trying to overthrow the election,” Lofgren said in an interview on CNN’s AC360 Wednesday night. “That’s the main shocking point in the story of the limo sheer. The real legal import was that he wanted to get up there and no one disputes that.”
Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, another Democratic member of the committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press NOW” that “Mr. Ornato did not have as clear a memory of that period as I would say Ms. Hutchinson had. do.”
“But we’re still happy people who called things back to come back and talk to us,” she added.
CNN’s Josh Campbell contributed to this report.