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Explosive Jan. 6 hearing delivers political blow to Trump that his rivals couldn't land

Mike Dorning, Steven T. Dennis, Billy House, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

A former White House aide potentially delivered the kind of political blow to Donald Trump that his would-be rivals for the Oval Office in 2024 have not yet been able to land.

Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony to the House Jan. 6 committee Tuesday presented startling glimpses of uncontrolled rage sure to sear into the public consciousness.

The vivid portrayal was laid out for the American public as Trump is considering another run for the presidency in 2024 and potential rivals are stepping up to try to loosen his grip on Republican voters. Former Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tweeted afterward that it was “A very, very bad day for Trump.”

But the former president has maintained his hold on the Republican Party despite scandals and controversies that would have ended the careers of other politicians.

And his supporters have seized on doubts raised about one of the most jarring parts of Hutchinson’s testimony: a second-hand account of Trump trying to grab the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle after his Secret Service detail refused his demand to be driven to the U.S. Capitol, where he had directed a mob of his supporters as Congress was set to certify the election.

Trump, in a social media post during the hearing, denied the incident took place, though he has previously acknowledged he wanted to head to the Capitol.

 

Tony Ornato, a long-time Secret Service agent who was working at the time as a deputy chief of staff to Trump, has privately disputed Hutchinson’s testimony that he told her that Trump reached for the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle or lunge toward a Secret Service agent who allegedly tried to stop him, according to a person familiar with the matter. Some other aides called it an unlikely scenario.

Hutchinson’s lawyers, Jody Hunt and William Jordan, released a statement Wednesday, saying she “stands by all of the testimony she provided yesterday, under oath, to the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.”

Some Democrats have noted that Hutchinson gave sworn testimony while contradictory accounts have only been leaked anonymously to the media. They also point out that Hutchinson never claimed to witness the steering wheel incident, only that she had heard about it from Ornato.

Secret Service spokesman Anthony Gugliemi said in a statement that the agency has been cooperating with the House probe “and will continue to do so, including by responding on the record to the Committee regarding the new allegations surfaced in today’s testimony.”

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