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Ex-White House staffer details Trump's behavior leading up to the Capitol attack


Testimony from a former White House aide showed how former President Trump did nothing to stop the violence on January 6 and, in fact, encouraged armed protesters to march to the Capitol. Cassidy Hutchinson was a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. She told the House committee that Donald Trump wanted security to clear the way for his supporters carrying weapons.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I overheard the president say something to the effect of, you know, I don't f'ing (ph) care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the f'ing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f'ing mags away.

MARTÍNEZ: Mags, as in magnetometers. They're security machines that detect weapons. Hutchinson described this exchange on January 6 with White House counsel Pat Cipollone.


HUTCHINSON: Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of, please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.


According to Hutchinson, the head of White House security, Tony Ornato, told her that Trump was, quote, "irate" when he learned his security detail was taking him back to the White House after the rally, not to the Capitol as the president wanted. Hutchinson said he was so angry he lunged at Secret Service agent Bobby Engel and tried to grab the steering wheel of his limousine.


HUTCHINSON: 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. The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, 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 towards Bobby Engel.

MARTÍNEZ: Hutchinson also described a December 2020 incident where Trump was allegedly so angry about an interview that his former attorney general, Bill Barr, gave, asserting that there was no widespread fraud in the election - that Trump was so mad about that that he threw a plate of food at the White House dining room. Trump dismissed Hutchinson's testimony on his personal social media network. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.