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Secret Service agent, driver prepared to testify that Trump didn’t grab steering wheel: Report

President Donald J. Trump's motorcade crosses the Southern Boulevard bridge leaving Mar-a-Lago for a trip to Key West, Fla., on Thursday, April 19, 2018. (Allen Eyestone/Palm Beach Post/TNS)
June 28, 2022

Hours after a former White House aide’s hearsay testimony under oath that former President Donald Trump lunged for the steering wheel and grabbed the neck of his Secret Service detail for defying his demands to return to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, two witnesses to the alleged altercation are prepared to testify that the allegations are false.

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ aide Cassidy Hutchinson — who was not in the vehicle with Trump at the time and relied solely on hearsay — testified to the House Jan. 6 committee on Tuesday that Trump grabbed the steering wheel of a Secret Service vehicle on Jan. 6 when his team refused to take him to the Capitol where he had just encouraged supporters to “peacefully and patriotically” protest.

Hutchinson’s testimony was challenged when NBC News Chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander tweeted Tuesday evening, “A source close to the Secret Service tells me both Bobby Engel, the lead agent, and the presidential limousine/SUV driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Mr. Trump never lunged for the steering wheel.”

Hutchinson had said during her testimony that Trump’s team told the president the Capitol was “not secure” after his speech and that they were taking him “back to the West Wing.”

“The president had a very strong, very angry reaction response to that. [Tony Ornato, then-White House deputy chief of staff] described him as being irate. The president said something to the effect of: ‘I’m the effing president. Take me up to the Capitol now.’ To which [Secret Service agent Robert ‘Bobby’ Engel] responded, ‘Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing,” Hutchinson said.

“The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel,” she continued. “Mr. Engel grabbed his arm and 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.”

Hutchinson was considered a star witness for the House Jan. 6 committee hearing, which was held unexpectedly after the committee announced it has completed hearings and would be reviewing existing evidence in July.

The House Judiciary GOP mocked Hutchinson and the committee following her testimony on Tuesday.

“That was their star witness? Ok then,” they tweeted along with a crying-laughing emoji.

Former President Trump responded to Hutchinson’s testimony on his social media platform Truth Social, revealing that he turned down her request for a job following his first term in office.

“I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and ‘leaker’), and when she requested to go with certain others of the team to Florida after my having served a full term in office, I personally turned her request down. Why did she want to go with us if she felt we were so terrible? I understand that she was very upset and angry that I didn’t want her to go, or be a member of the team,” he wrote. “She is bad news!”