A witness before the House Committee investigating the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 testified on Tuesday that then-President Donald Trump was not concerned about rallygoers bringing in weapons to the rally he held in Washington, D.C. that day, and even demanded metal detectors removed.
Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified at a hearing on Tuesday that Trump had been told rallygoers at his Jan. 6 “Save America” rally on the White House Ellipse were armed but that he ignored such concerns and asked for security precautions to be lifted in order to increase the crowd size at the rally.
“I was part of a conversation — I was in, I was in the vicinity of a conversation — where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, ‘You know, I don’t f—ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me,’” Hutchinson said in a taped closed-door testimony that was played by the committee on Tuesday.
During her testimony, Hutchinson described Trump as “f—ing furious” about the size of the crowd in attendance at his Jan. 6 rally and insisted more people be let in even as the security threat was described to him. Hutchinson said one of the reasons Trump stated for allowing more people in was he wanted people “to not feel excluded because they had come from afar to watch him at the rally” but that he was also heavily focused on camera shots of the crowd size and wanted the area for the rally to be full.
During the hearing, a police intelligence recording was also played, in which officers described people who “had Glock style pistols in their waist.”
Hutchinson also testified that she remembered White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Tony Ornato mentioned people with “knives, guns in the form of pistols and rifles, bear spray, body armor, spears and flagpoles, spears for one item, flagpoles were one item.”
In part of the closed-door testimony played at the hearing, Hutchinson said she told Meadows about the weapons that were spotted ahead of the rally but that Meadows was looking at his phone through most of the conversation and did not act on her concerns about the potential for violence on that day.
She also testified that the issue was not that the metal detectors were slowing people from getting into the rally area, but that people who were armed simply didn’t want to pass through the metal detectors and have their weapons taken away.
Hutchinson said that when discussing the metal detectors, Trump said, “Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in.”
At the hearing, the committee played a clip of Trump’s Jan. 6 rally speech in which he said “After this, we’re going to walk down — and I’ll be there with you — we’re going to walk down. We’re going to walk down — anyone you want, but I think right here. We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. The clip ended before Trump finished his sentence, “and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women.”
Hutchinson testified that Trump had indeed wanted to go to the Capitol but that his U.S. Secret Service team wouldn’t let him, due to their concerns about the security situation developing at the building.
“It was becoming clear to us and to the Secret Service that Capitol Police officers were getting overrun at the security barricades outside the Capitol building,” Hutchinson said. “And they were short of people to defend against the rioters.”
Hutchinson said the violence at the Capitol was going on even as Trump was still in his speech and that after repeatedly trying to tell Meadows about it, he eventually responded “how much longer does the president have left in his speech.”
Trump responded to Hutchinson’s allegations on Tuesday through his TruthSocial social media platform.
“Never complained about the crowd, it was massive,” Trump said. “I didn’t want or request that we make room for people with guns to watch my speech. Who would ever want that? Not me! Besides, there were no guns found or brought into the Capitol Building…So where were all of these guns? But sadly, a gun was used on Ashli Babbitt, with no price to pay against the person who used it!”