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The Jan. 6 commission is not publicly discussing actions to verify or substantiate what was a key claim made by former Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson during a hearing last week.
Hutchinson, who worked closely with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, recounted several key events through video and personal testimony during the hearing. Most explosively, former President Donald Trump, angry that the United States Secret Service (USSS) wouldn’t take him to the Capitol, allegedly tried to grab the steering wheel of a presidential vehicle and lunge at an agent.
Hutchinson described what she believed was a version of events former Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Tony Ornato told her after the fact on Jan. 6. Hutchinson said Ornato told her the incident happened after Trump left his meeting at the Ellipse and demanded to be taken to the Capitol, where Congress certified the results of the presidential election.
“The president reached to the front of the vehicle to grab the steering wheel. [Secret Service agent Bobby] Engel grabbed his arm and said, “Sir, you must take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol,” Hutchinson said, quoting Ornato. Trump then used his free hand to lunge at Bobby Engel. When Mr. Ornato told me this story, he gestured to his collarbones.’
The Jan. 6 committee did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment from Fox News Digital asking whether it has attempted to talk to Ornato or Engel since the hearing. It also did not respond to questions about whether it has contacted the Secret Service to verify the allegations, whether there may be further subpoenas related to Hutchinson’s claims, or whether it has taken other actions to verify what she said.
USSS spokesman Anthony Gugliemi said the agency has no information to share when asked whether the commission has taken further steps to verify Hutchinson’s claims.
SECRET SERVICE SAYS JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE HAS NOT REACHED BEFORE HUTCHINSON TESTOMONY ABOUT TRUMP LUNGING AT AGENT
A source close to Ornato told Fox News that Ornato was shocked when Hutchinson made the claim about the wheel. That source said both Ornato and Engel would be willing to testify before the committee to refute that part of Hutchinson’s story. USSS spokesman Gugliemi also confirmed to Fox News on Wednesday that the committee had not been contacted in the days before the hearing to verify Hutchinson’s claims.
In the days since Hutchinson’s testimony was initially disputed, several committee members have spoken publicly and assisted Hutchinson. They also say they’d love to hear from anyone disputing Hutchinson under oath. But no one has made further efforts by the committee to verify the disputed portions of her testimony.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that anyone who wants to dispute Hutchinson’s testimony should not do so through the media and should put their name on their comments.
“Well, there’s information I can’t say yet, but we would certainly say that Cassidy Hutchinson testified under oath. We find her credible and anyone who wants to discredit that, who was there firsthand, should come.” and also testify under oath and not through anonymous sources, cite unquoted, and not potentially be an anonymous source,” Kinzinger said.
TONY ORNATO DID NOT BRIEF CASSIDY HUTCHINSON THAT TRUMP TRY TO LUNGE AT SECRET SERVICE AGENT: SOURCES
“Well, I’m not going to say what we do or don’t have in terms of confirmation,” he told CNN. “But let me say this. What she said is what she heard.’
Kinzinger added that no one is disputing other parts of Hutchinson’s testimony, including that Trump wanted to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6 or that he knew many of his supporters were armed. He also said people can expect the commission to release more information in the future. But he declined to comment on whether the committee is currently taking steps to verify what Hutchinson said about Trump allegedly lunging at a Secret Service agent or grabbing the wheel of his vehicle.
Separately, Kinzinger has: also marked comments from former Trump White House officials about Ornato allegedly not being a truthful person. “There seems to be a big common thread here… Tony Ornato likes to lie,” Kinzinger tweeted.
JANUARY 6 HEARING: TOP 5 MOMENTS OF EXPLOSIVE CASSIDY HUTCHINSON TESTIMONY ON TRUMP, ATTACK ON CAPITOL
Reps Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., made comments similar to Kinzinger’s in their own appearances on Sunday.
“The commission will not stand by as her character is murdered by anonymous sources and by men claiming executive privilege. So we are very much looking forward to additional sworn testimony on a whole range of issues,” Cheney told ABC.
Cheney was pressured by ABC as to whether the committee has further evidence to confirm what Hutchinson said. Cheney said there was evidence of Trump’s “intense anger” when he was told he couldn’t go to the Capitol and had to go back to the White House. But she did not provide details of further evidence about the lunge and grab the steering wheel incident.
“We always expected Trumpworld to try to discredit her, and they don’t disappoint us in that regard,” Lofgren said of Hutchinson on NBC’s Meet the Press.
But when asked about steps being taken to confirm what she said, Lofgren said the committee had previously spoken with Ornato, said the committee would welcome him back if he wants to testify more, and said Ornato is “part of Trumpworld.” .
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Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., was asked on CBS when the committee — which interviewed Ornato and Engel — first heard the story of Trump trying to grab the steering wheel in his vehicle. Schiff said he would not discuss details of previous testimony, said the committee would welcome those men to testify again, and also pointed out other parts of Hutchinson’s testimony that are not being disputed.
Hutchinson also stands behind her testimony, in statements through her lawyers.
Fox News’ Lakia Atkins, Andres Del Aguila, David Spunt and Meghan Tome contributed to this report.