The January 6 Committee unveiled its surprise star witness on Tuesday — Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — yet committee member Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-MD) admitted that her testimony was only hearsay.
Hutchinson testified before the committee that Secret Service agent Anthony Ornato told her that on January 6, 2021, then-President Donald Trump attempted to grab the steering wheel of the presidential limo “The Beast” and commandeer the vehicle to the U.S. Capitol to join protesters upset about the 2020 presidential election results. She added that the president was rebuffed by the head of Trump’s Secret Service detail, Robert Engel, who grabbed the president’s wrist. She then claimed that Ornato told her that Trump reached for Engel’s clavicle with his free hand.
While told vividly, the story seemed to lack any hard evidence and was only a second-hand account. CNN’s Jake Tapper pressed Raskin on that point Tuesday evening and asked for any subsequent corroboration from previous testimony.
“She did not see it happen,” Tapper said to Raskin Tuesday evening. “Do you have any corroborating evidence? You have interviewed both Ornato, or the committee has interviewed both Engle and Ornato, two Secret Service agents. Do you have any corroborating evidence that that story is true or do you only have it from Cassidy Hutchinson?”
Raskin could not provide any solid proof besides implying that it sounded true.
“Well, um, the story that she told is the evidence that I’m aware of, at least within her story, and I’ve not seen anything to contradict it,” Raskin answered. “And then, of course, it’s corroborated by everything else we know about Donald Trump’s eagerness to not just incite this march and assemble the march and form the march and exhort the people in the march but also to participate in it, he wanted to go into it.”
Raskin then recounted how Hutchinson testified that White House counsel told her not to let Trump enter the rally at the Capitol for various legal and safety reasons.
Tapper pressed forward, asking again if Raskin had any evidence.
“What I’m saying is, your committee interviewed Tony Ornato and [Robert] Engel, who supposedly told her this story, and I don’t doubt her. I’m sure Ornato told her the story but your committee interviewed them. Did you ask about this story?” Tapper asked. “It is a shocking story.”
“I was not involved in either of those interviews. So I can’t say and I don’t have any knowledge of that. I will just say I’m not aware of anything that contradicts the account,” Raskin responded.
Raskin added that he would encourage any other material witness to come forward with information that could prove or disprove Hutchinson’s testimony.
Tapper again lamented the fact that there was no actual evidence of her claims.
“It is just an incredibly damning and dramatic story. I would just, as a journalist and as an American, appreciate more corroboration for the story, since as of now, it is hearsay,” Tapper said before Raskin interjected, “Oh, sure.”
“And of course, we’re not in a court of law and we’re not charging anybody with any particular offense,” Raskin continued. “Our job under House Resolution 503 is to assemble the most meticulous and comprehensive account of the details of that day that we can as well as the causes of these events, as well as making recommendations as to how to fortify democratic institutions against coups, and insurrections and political violence or attacks on our election. So that’s what we’re working on.”
Raskin added that Hutchinson’s account is just “one detail out of many details” while claiming that he was “not aware of a single fact that the committee has put forward that has been contradicted or debunked by anybody, but that’s not to say it couldn’t happen.”
The interview can be seen here:
CNN’s @jaketapper asks @RepRaskin about corroborating the shocking story, told by ex-aide of Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, about Trump’s physical attack on Secret Service detail to drive to the US Capitol on January 6. pic.twitter.com/z2ul9WvFcc
— CNN (@CNN) June 28, 2022