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Witness recalls being told Trump grabbed the wheel when he couldn't go to the Capitol

A video of then-President Donald Trump's motorcade leaving the Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse is displayed as Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies about Trump's actions on that day.
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Pool/Getty Images
A video of then-President Donald Trump's motorcade leaving the Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse is displayed as Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies about Trump's actions on that day.

Former President Donald Trump intended to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after his speech calling for his supporters to march there and became "irate" when told he couldn't, according to testimony Tuesday from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide.

Trump told the rally at the Ellipse that day he would go to the Capitol and Secret Service and National Security Council staff communicated about "clearing a route," according to messages shown by the committee. In the communications, security personnel used the code name "Mogul" for Trump.

The president was under the impression that he would be taken to the Capitol following his speech, said Hutchinson, who was then a top aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

When he learned there were no security assets and Trump would have to return to the White House, the president grew "irate" and attempted to grab the steering wheel of "The Beast," the president's armored vehicle. Hutchinson did not witness the altercation, but heard it from others and those who were there did not dispute the account, she said.

"'I am the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now!'" Hutchinson testified that Trump said.

Trump talked about walking to the Capitol, where he might give a speech or enter the House chamber. And when staff stopped those plans, Trump attempted to grab the steering wheel of the vehicle to direct it that way, she said.

Hutchinson also testified that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy contacted her during the rally and asked for her to make sure that Trump didn't come to the Capitol.

Trump responded to Hutchinson's testimony, posting on Truth Social, the social media platform he controls: "Her Fake story that I tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House Limousine in order to steer it to the Capitol Building is "sick" and fraudulent, very much like the Unselect Committee itself - Wouldn't even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing."

Earlier Trump had posted about the witness: "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. She is bad news!"

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.