Capitol Riot

Trump Lunged at Security Chief, Tried to Force Driver to Go to the Capitol, White House Aide Says

Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Trump was irate that Secret Service was returning him to White House after Jan. 6 rally

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When Donald Trump was told by the Secret Service special agent Robert Engel that he could not go to the Capitol after his Jan. 6 rally, the former president reached for the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle, a former White House aide told the House committee investigating the riot.

Engel grabbed Trump's arm and told Trump, "Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel," Cassidy Hutchison testified on Tuesday. "We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol."

Hutchinson was then a top aide to the chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

She said that when she returned to the White House after Trump's rally, she encountered Tony Ornato, the former White House chief of operations, who motioned her into his office. Engel, the special agent in charge on Jan. 6, was inside.

She said Ornato told her that when Trump learned he would not be going to the Capitol, he said, "I'm the effing president. Take me up to the Capitol now."

But Engel refused. After he grabbed one of the president's arms, Trump used his other to lunge toward Engel, she said.

"When Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he had motioned toward his clavicles," Hutchinson said.

At no point did Engel disagree with what Ornato told her, she said.

A source close to the Secret Service told NBC News after the hearing that both Engel and the presidential vehicle driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither were assaulted and that Trump never lunged for the steering wheel.

As NBC News previously reported, Ornato and Engel have testified before the committee behind closed doors. NBC News has learned, according to a source familiar with their testimony, both men testified about their exchange with Hutchinson inside the White House, but, according to this source, neither man was asked about the steering wheel account or Trump allegedly grabbing Engel.

The source says the men do not deny that Trump was angry and wanted to go to the Capitol that day – but, the source says, he did not become physical inside the SUV.

In December, an angry Trump threw his lunch, shattering a plate and leaving ketchup splattered on the wall, upon learning that Attorney General William Barr had said publicly that the Department of Justice found no evidence of election fraud, Hutchinson told the Jan. 6 committee.

Trump became enraged after learning of an interview Barr gave to The Associated Press on Dec. 1, 2020, in which he publicly stated the Department of Justice found no evidence to support Trump's claims of election fraud.

"I first noticed there was ketchup dripping down the wall and there was a shattered porcelain plate on the floor," Hutchinson said. "I grabbed a towel and started wiping the ketchup off the wall to help the valet and he said something to the effect of, 'He's really ticked off about this — I would stay clear of him for right now.'"

This is a live update. Click here for complete coverage of the Jan. 6 hearings.

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