On January 6, A Witness Talks About The Campaign Of Pressure From Trump Allies

Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, told a House committee on January 6 about a wide-ranging campaign by Donald Trump’s allies to put pressure on her so she wouldn’t work with Congress and keep her from giving potentially damaging testimony about him.

In an extraordinary closed-door testimony made public on Thursday, Hutchinson talked about how people in the former president’s inner circle offered her jobs and money while helping the committee look into the Capitol riot. She also spoke about how her lawyer, a former ethics counsel in the Trump White House, told her not to be completely honest with lawmakers and that “the less you remember, the better.”

As the nine-person committee tries to wrap up its investigation and make its findings public, it released two transcripts of Hutchinson’s testimony that had never been seen before. The committee, which will end when Republicans take over the House on January 3, was also expected to release its final report on Thursday.

The transcripts tell us things we didn’t know before about what Hutchinson called her “moral struggle” — torn between wanting to tell the truth and staying loyal to Trump — that she says she went through on her way to becoming one of the committee’s most memorable witnesses.

At a televised hearing in June, Hutchinson told the public about what Trump did on January 6, 2021. She talked about how he ordered magnetometers to be taken away from a rally of his supporters that day and how angry he was when the Secret Service refused to take him to the Capitol to join the crowd trying to stop Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden as president.

“I had this moral struggle in my mind the whole time,” she said, according to the transcripts. She talked about her first meeting with the committee when she hid information about Trump that she would later tell a room full of people who were all listening.

When she looked back, she added, “It seems silly because I knew in my heart where my loyalty was, and it was with the truth. And I never wanted to go in a different direction. “You know, I never wanted or thought I would be a witness like I am now. I thought more people would be willing to speak out too.” But from what she said, that witness’s word was never sure.

After getting a subpoena from the committee last year, Hutchinson scrambled to find a lawyer, just like other Trump aides who were caught up in investigations because of how close they were to Trump. Even though she didn’t want to be represented by someone from the “Trump world,” former White House staffers and Trump supporters helped her find a lawyer “— something she thought would make her “owe these people” money.

She said that a former White House ethics counsel named Stefan Passantino called her in February and told her he would be her lawyer. He said she wouldn’t have to pay for his help, but he didn’t answer when she asked where the money would come from. She found out later that it was from people who backed Trump.

“We’ll tell you at the end if you want to know, “She said that he told her, “But right now, we’re not telling anyone where the money is coming from. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. You’ll never get a bill for this, so don’t worry about that.”

On January 6, A Witness Talks About The Campaign Of Pressure From Trump Allies
On January 6, A Witness Talks About The Campaign Of Pressure From Trump Allies

Hutchinson said that when she was getting ready for her first interview with the committee later that month, Passantino told her, “Keep your answers short, sweet, and simple—no more than seven words.” The better and faster it will go, the less the committee thinks.”

She said that when she told Passantino that she had heard about an angry outburst by Trump in which he yelled at Secret Service agents in the president’s car for not taking him to the Capitol, he told her not to talk about that with the committee.

“No, no, no, no, no. We’d rather not go there. “He said, ‘We don’t want to talk about that,'” she said. In his statement, Passantino said that he had “represented Ms. Hutchinson in a way that was honest, ethical, and fully in line with her sole interests as she told me.”

Hutchinson told the committee that other Trump advisers seemed to be very interested in her cooperation and her finances and job during this time. She said that two other lawyers who worked with Trump tried to help her find a job in May by giving her money and offering her a job on a campaign out West. Other people who support Trump reached out to offer possible jobs.

She said that Mark Meadows’ friend and former White House chief of staff, Ben Williamson, had talked to her the night before the second interview with the committee and told her, “Well, Mark wants me to let you know that he knows you’re loyal and that you’ll do the right thing tomorrow and that you’ll protect him and the boss. He knows we’re all on the same team and that we’re all related.” Williamson didn’t say anything Thursday.

She said that during her first interview, the committee asked Hutchinson repeatedly if she knew anything about a fight inside the “Beast,” which is the name of the president’s SUV. She was scared, so she stopped moving and said she knew nothing about it. That wasn’t true, though.

During a break in the interview, Hutchinson said to Passantino, “I’m sorry, I’m distraught” (expletive). I just lied.” She noted that Passantino did not tell her to change the record but told her, “They don’t know what you know, Cassidy. They have no idea that you remember some of these things. So saying “I don’t remember” is a perfect answer to this.”

Passantino said in his statement, “Hutchinson was honest and helpful with the Committee during all of the times I interviewed her on her behalf.”

But by April, Hutchinson said she was done with the “Trump world” and was ready to move on. She read about the Watergate scandal on the Internet. The story of Alexander Butterfield, a young supporter of Richard Nixon who turned out to be a key witness against him, struck a chord with her. She drove to the home of Alyssa Farah, a former White House official who had publicly left the Trump administration, and asked her to act as a back channel to the committee because she still had more to say.

In June, she testified in public again, this time with a new lawyer. It was one of the most dramatic parts of the committee’s hearings. She said that someone had told her that on January 6, Trump had tried to attack the agent driving the SUV that took him back to the White House.

In September of last year, she went back to the committee and told them about the pressure campaign in private. The information has also been given to the Justice Department, where a special counsel named by Attorney General Merrick Garland, Jack Smith, is now conducting an investigation.

“I’m not trying to make myself look like a hero by sitting here. I know I did the wrong thing. I think I did some things wrong in the first interview, at least “in the interview, she said. “You know, I hate that I had this moral struggle because it shouldn’t have been there.”

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