Last month, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, claimed that President Trump grabbed the steering wheel of the presidential SUV and then lunged at Secret Service agent Robert Engel because he wanted to join the protesters at the Capitol.
“The president reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. [Secret Service agent Bobby] 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 testified. “Trump then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel. When Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he motioned toward his clavicles.”
It was such an outlandish claim, and the Jan. 6 Committee clearly hoped it would be the nail in Trump’s political coffin. However, that just wouldn’t be the case. For starters, her testimony was hearsay, based entirely on something she alleges she was told. As we know, her testimony fell apart within hours, with Engel saying that the events Hutchinson described never happened and Ornato denying ever telling Hutchinson the outlandish story. Both said they’d testify under oath to dispute Hutchinson’s story.
Nevertheless, many on the left and within the mainstream media continued to cite her claims as a genuine bombshell, damaging to Trump. For example, the New York Times, the so-called paper of record, plastered its entire front page with stories about Hutchinson’s testimony even after it had been debunked.
Many on the left still seem to think Hutchinson’s testimony is legitimate and have instead chosen to attack the Secret Service agents for publicly defending Trump — but they are not only holding strong but doubling down on their story, according to a report from The Hill. A source told the outlet that Trump did want to go to the Capitol, and that was not new information, but the claims that Trump lunged for the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle and then at the neck of Secret Service agent Robert Engel are completely false.
Ornato and Engel, who are still active in the Secret Service, are willing to testify under oath to dispute Hutchinson’s narrative. The unnamed driver is also reportedly willing to testify to deny her story.
“Ornato is a red herring,” the source told The Hill because Ornato wasn’t even present at the time of the alleged incident. “There are three people in that vehicle: Bobby Engel, President Trump and the limo driver,” the source said, and both agents are “saying that did not happen.”
That these agents are willing to testify is all fine and good, but we still don’t know the answer to the question as to why the Jan. 6 Committee even allowed Hutchinson’s testimony in the first place. The committee is conspicuously mum on whether they made any effort to verify her claims prior to her public testimony. However, a U.S. Secret Service spokesman confirmed to Fox News that the committee did not contact them prior to the hearing to verify Hutchinson’s claims.