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Who is Cassidy Hutchinson? Former aide to Trump's White House chief of staff Mark Meadows testifies in January 6 hearing

Former aide: Trump tried to join Jan. 6 mob
Former White House aide: Trump tried to join Jan. 6 mob 07:00

Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to President Donald's Trump's White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified at a House January 6 committee hearing on Tuesday. The unexpected hearing was announced on Monday, with the committee saying it would present "recently obtained evidence" from an unnamed witness who was later revealed to be Cassidy Hutchinson. But who is she?

Hutchinson is the committee's first live witness who was in the West Wing on Jan. 6, 2021. 

"It's important that the American people hear that information immediately," the committee chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, said at the start of the hearing, thanking people like Hutchinson for their courage. 

Hutchinson previously worked for House Republican Whip Rep. Steve Scalise as well as Sen. Ted Cruz, Thompson said at the hearing. 

House January 6 Committee Holds Public Hearing
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, arrives for a hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.  Andrew Harnik/AP Photo/Bloomberg via Getty Images

She attended Christopher Newport University and spoke to the school about her White House internship in 2018. "I attended numerous events hosted by the president, such as signing ceremonies, celebrations and presidential announcements, and frequently watched Marine One depart the South Lawn from my office window," she said, according to a 2018 article on the school's website, which described her as a "first-generation college student."

"My small contribution to the quest to maintain American prosperity and excellence is a memory I will hold as one of the honors of my life," she said

Hutchinson was then in her senior year at the university in Newport News, Virginia. She said she planned to head back to Washington, D.C. after graduating — which she did. 

In 2019, she began a role at the to the White House's legislative affairs office, committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney said during Tuesday's hearing. Hutchinson was promoted to principal aide to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows in March 2020 and served until the end of the Trump administration.

Though still young, like many White House staffers, Cheney said Hutchinson "handled a vast number of sensitive issues" and worked in the West Wing, just steps down the hall from the Oval Office. During the hearing, Hutchinson said in her testimony that she spent a lot of time on Capitol Hill and helped fulfill presidential travel engagements. 

"Ms. Hutchinson spoke daily with members of Congress, with high ranking officials in the administration, with senior White House staff, including Mr. Meadows, with White House counsel lawyers and with Mr. Tony Ornadt, who served as the deputy chief of [operations]," Cheney said. "She also worked on a daily basis with members of the Secret Service who were posted in the White House"

"In short, Ms. Hutchinson was in a position to know a great deal about the happenings in the White House," Cheney continued. 

One of the first things Hutchinson described during Tuesday's testimony was a conversation between herself and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. She said during the conversation on January 2 — days before the Capitol attack — Giuliani "said something to the effect of how we should be excited for the 6th, it will be a great day."

She said didn't know exactly what he was talking about, and when she asked Meadows about it later, he "said something to the effect of, 'There's a lot going on. But I don't know, things might get real, real bad on January 6th.'" 

Hutchinson recently switched lawyers for the hearing. She had been using a former Trump White House official, but is now with Jody Hunt, who worked for the Justice Department and served as chief of staff to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to The Associated Press.

Hunt was a key witness for special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign.

Hutchinson has testified for the Jan. 6 committee several times before the public hearing on Tuesday. She testified that Anthony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official who was detailed to the White House and served as deputy chief of operations, brought Meadows intelligence reports that "indicated that there could be violence on the 6th," but she was not sure what he did with the information internally. 

In another interview, she testified about White House meetings with several Republican members of Congress, at which a plan to have alternate electors meet and cast votes for Trump in states he lost was discussed, and that the White House counsel's office said such a plan was not legally sound.

During Tuesday's testimony, Hutchinson said Ornato told her that as Mr. Trump was leaving his speech at the Ellipses on January 6, he "reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel," as he and his head of security at the time, Bobby Engel, drove back to the White House.

"Mr. Engel grabbed his arm and said, 'Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We are going back to the west wing. We are not going to the Capitol,'" Hutchinson recounted. "Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel, he had motioned towards his clavicles." 

Engle was in the room as Ornato told Hutchinson the story and did not correct or disagree with the story, Hutchinson said.

However, a source close to the Secret Service confirmed to CBS News that Engel and the driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was physically attacked or assaulted by Trump and that the former president never lunged for the steering wheel of the vehicle. 

The Secret Service officials do not dispute that Trump was irate or that he demanded to be taken to the Capitol, in the language that Hutchinson related to the committee.

The U.S. Secret Service "has been cooperating with the Select Committee since its inception in spring 2021, and will continue to do so, including by responding on the record to the Committee regarding the new allegations surfaced in today's testimony," Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement to CBS News.

The House is currently in the middle of a two-week recess and Hutchinson's hearing was unexpected, as the committee had said they would not hold more meetings until July.

Nicole Sganga and Victoria Albert contributed to this report.

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