U.S. Capitol riot panel faces questions over Trump fracas in SUV

WASHINGTON, June 29 (Reuters) – A congressional inquiry into the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump was questioned on Wednesday about steps it had taken to corroborate an aide’s account of the White House that the then-president wrestled with Secret Service agents in his armored SUV that day.

US media, citing Secret Service sources, said Trump’s security chief Robert Engel and the driver of the car were prepared to dispute the aide’s testimony that Trump grabbed the wheel of the car. Chevrolet Suburban modified when he learned that the Secret Service would not take him to the Capitol, where thousands of his supporters rioted.

Neither Engel nor the driver made any public statements Wednesday. Trump on Tuesday denied grabbing the steering wheel.

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On Jan. 6, a U.S. House of Representatives committee aide said he would welcome testimony from any witness wishing to provide new information under oath after Tuesday’s testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, assistant chief of staff. from Trump to the White House, Mark Meadows.

On Wednesday, the House aide declined to answer questions about whether the committee had ever interviewed Secret Service agents or other officials with direct knowledge of the incident described by Hutchinson.

Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Wednesday that the committee had not sought to confirm details of Hutchinson’s testimony in the 10 days before the hearing, which was scheduled to be exceptionally quickly scheduled. In a separate statement, he said he was cooperating with the committee.

Guglielmi did not immediately respond to questions about the significance of the 10 days or whether the committee had previously contacted the agency to discuss Trump’s behavior on January 6.

Hutchinson testified that Tony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official, told him that Trump struggled with agents after he delivered a fiery speech to his supporters outside the White House that morning, in which he repeatedly falsely blamed widespread fraud for his election loss to Joe Biden. Read more

The riot was an attempt to prevent Congress, chaired by Vice President Pence, from certifying Biden’s election.

“THE OTHER SIDE OF HISTORY”

“If it’s true that the Secret Service denies allegations against President Trump of beatings and assaults on officers, then the story is really about gossip that didn’t come to fruition,” the agency said Wednesday. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

“The committee, with a little effort, could have told the other side of the story, but they chose NOT to because they wanted sensational headlines.”

Supporters of Republican Trump did not dispute the other revelations of Hutchinson’s testimony. These included Trump’s knowledge — even approval — of his heavily armed supporters walking around Washington on Jan. 6 and that he had no qualms about rioters urging Pence to be hanged.

Hutchinson also testified that Trump was known for his angry outbursts at the White House that left food strewn on the walls and dishes spilled.

“Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony before the January 6 Committee was hailed as ‘courageous’ and dismissed as ‘unbelievable,'” Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said on Twitter on Wednesday. “It’s time for those present at some of our democracy’s darkest moments to come forward under oath and, like her, to tell their stories.”

Durbin chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Also on Wednesday, an attorney for Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, asked the committee to provide better “justification” for requesting her testimony.

Earlier this month, Ginni Thomas told the Daily Caller she was eager to “dispel misconceptions” about her activism in conservative political circles and her attendance at the Trump rally on January 6.

As Meadows’ former deputy, Hutchinson, now 26, was a constant presence among White House staff in the final months of 2020, flying frequently aboard Air Force One, friendly with staff and with Trump’s Secret Service details. His office was a 10-second walk from the President’s Oval Office.

Aides working in the White House were surprised at the outsized influence of a 24-year-old woman and surprised at her history of drama on the SUV the day of the riot.

Sources familiar with the matter said she planned to join the small contingent of staffers who moved to Florida with Trump after handing over power to Joe Biden in January 2021, but Trump ultimately chose not to. to hire.

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Reporting by Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Doina Chiacu and Rose Horowitch; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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