The corroboration comes as the committee plans to focus on Trump’s conduct on January 6, 2021 during its hearing next week, which will focus on Trump’s response – or lack thereof – as rioters breached the walls of the Capitol and forced lawmakers to flee their chambers. .
Members of the select committee accused Trump of “dereliction of duty” for failing to act while the Capitol was under attack – and his vice president, Mike Pence – was in danger. Next week’s hearing is the last scheduled of the committee’s eight public hearings, as the panel has sought in each session to link Trump to the deadly attack that unfolded on January 6.
“There will be a lot of information, a lot more clarity on the details of the things that happened that day, what the people who worked in the White House, who worked around the president and even the people who advised him to do things that he wasn’t taking based on their reasoned advice,” Virginia Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, who will help lead the upcoming hearing, told CNN this week. “I consider this a dereliction of duty. He did nothing. He did nothing to stop the violence.”
A prime-time audience next week
Investigations around the whirlwind of Trump
The Jan. 6 committee is just one of Trump’s potential investigative concerns, even as he plans to move forward with a 2024 presidential campaign announcement.
And in Washington, DC, efforts by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to delay his trial for contempt of Congress were thrown out this week by a federal judge, and the trial is expected to begin next week.
Deleted secret service texts raise new questions
New questions have also emerged regarding the Secret Service and January 6, amid a flurry of new questions about the agency’s removal of text messages on January 5 and 6, 2021 shortly after they were requested by supervisors.
The Homeland Security Inspector General sent a letter to the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees alerting them that the messages had been wiped ‘as part of a device replacement program’ after the dog guard had requested electronic communications from the secret services.
The House Homeland Security Committee is chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who also chairs the House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6.
Thompson told CNN after the meeting that Cuffari said the Secret Service had not been fully cooperative. He added that the committee would work “to try to determine if these texts can be resurrected”.
According to a source familiar with the briefing, the Inspector General told the panel that the Secret Service did not conduct its own Jan. 6 after-action review and chose to rely on the Inspector General’s investigation.
“We’ve had limited engagement with the Secret Service. We’ll follow up with additional engagement now that we’ve met with the IG,” Thompson said.
The Secret Service responded Thursday in a statement saying that “the insinuation that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages in response to a request is false.”
“In fact, the Secret Service cooperated fully with the OIG in all respects, whether it was interviews, documents, emails or text messages,” the agency said.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland on the select committee, said there appeared to be “conflicting statements” between the inspector general and the Secret Service on whether the text messages had actually gone missing.
Corroborated explosive testimony
In his public testimony, Hutchinson said Tony Ornato, then deputy White House chief of staff – who had previously worked for the Secret Service and then returned to the agency in 2021 – told him on January 6 that Trump was so enraged at his Secret Service detail for stopping him from going to the Capitol after his speech on the Ellipse that “he reached out to the front of the vehicle to grab the steering wheel.”
Hutchinson said Ornato told him that Trump “then used his free hand to rush toward” his senior Secret Service agent, Robert Engel.
Hutchinson testified that Ornato told him the story in front of Engel and that Engel did not dispute the account.
Trump and his allies attempted to cast doubt on Hutchinson’s account – which included several additional damning details of Trump’s conduct. After Hutchinson’s testimony, an unrecorded Secret Service official said Engel would deny parts of the story and the agents involved would testify publicly to that effect, although they did not return to the committee. to testify.
Neither Engel nor Ornato have commented publicly.
But further corroboration of Hutchinson’s account has emerged since his testimony. CNN reported earlier this month that two Secret Service sources said they heard of Trump angrily demanding to go to Capitol Hill and berating his details when he was unsuccessful.
The sources told CNN that stories circulated about the incident after Jan. 6 that included details similar to those described by Hutchinson.
Additionally, CNN reported Thursday that a Metropolitan Police Department officer corroborated the details of Hutchinson’s account and related what was seen to committee investigators.
This story was updated with additional developments on Saturday.
CNN’s Zachary Cohen, Ryan Nobles, Annie Grayer, Jamie Gangel and Whitney Wild contributed to this report.