Did Trump grab the wheel? Secret Service may counter testimony

Capitol Riots

(NewsNation) — Two Secret Service agents are willing to testify that former President Donald Trump did not lunge at any agents during the Jan. 6 insurrection, contrary to under oath testimony of a former top aide, a law enforcement source close to the Secret Service told NewsNation.

Cassidy Hutchinson described an angry president who was trying that day to let armed protesters avoid security screenings at a rally that morning to protest his 2020 election defeat, during her testimony to the committee investigating the Jan. 6 riots Tuesday.

Hutchinson said that she was told Trump fought a security official for control of the presidential SUV on Jan. 6 and demanded to be taken the Capitol as the insurrection began, despite being warned earlier that day that some of his supporters were armed.

The former aide said that she was told of the altercation in the SUV immediately afterward by a White House security official and that Bobby Engel, the head of the detail, was in the room and didn’t dispute the account at the time. Engel had grabbed Trump’s arm to prevent him from gaining control of the armored vehicle, she was told, and Trump then used his free hand to lunge at Engel.

Trump has denied the claims, pumping out harsh attacks on Truth Social, the website he created after Twitter banned him following the insurrection.

“Her fake story that I tried to grab the 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,” he wrote.

“I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and ‘leaker’),” he said.

Engel, the agent who was driving the presidential SUV, and Trump security official Tony Ornato are willing to testify under oath that no agent was assaulted and Trump never lunged for the steering wheel, sources confirmed to NewsNation and the Associated Press. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity. It is unknown when the agents will testify.

“Yes, they are willing to come to testify about this incident, but it’s even more significant because it is incredibly rare. The Secret Service as an agency typically doesn’t greenlight their agents publicly testifying in this way because part of their job is to maintain a closeness and a privacy with the President or whomever else,” NewsNation’s Joe Khalil explained. “They don’t want to appear they are doing something that violates that trust in any way. So the fact that they’re going to be able to do this, I think this adds to the broader story here of what they’re about to do.”

Former Secret Service agent Chuck Marino said in the past agents have attempted to not testify against the president.

“During the Clinton Lewinsky investigation by Kenneth Starr, they’re the Secret Service sought and executive privilege to exempt themselves from testifying,” Marino said. “That was denied by the courts. I think is as a federal government agency, the Secret Service, based on the court’s rulings have an obligation to work with the select committee, which they’ve been doing from the beginning.”

NewsNation’s political editor Chris Stirewalt points out, that regardless of whether or not Trump lunged at his security agents, that isn’t the most important claim that Hutchinson made during her testimony.

“The most important stuff is what she saw or heard. She said she saw or heard firsthand, which is the president’s awareness that the mob was armed. The president’s awareness that he wanted to get rid of the magnetometers that the Secret Service was using to screen people as they were coming into the rally,” Stirewalt explained. “The fact that he wanted to go to the Capitol at all. And the fact that he was rather content with the fact that there was this very angry armed mob, and that their targets were not him — that it was Mike Pence, and then it was the Congress of the United States.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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