Employees of former President Donald Trump were speechless during the first half of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony on Tuesday, acknowledging to CNN that her testimony was “a bomb” with potentially huge implications for Trump.
Trump was already bracing for an explosive day of testimony from Hutchinson, who previously told the House select committee that on January 6, 2021, the former president consented to rioters making violent threats against Vice President Mike Pence.
“This is a bomb. It’s amazing. It’s shocking. The story of ‘The Beast’ – I have no words for it. It’s just beautiful,” a Trump adviser said, referring to the presidential limousine.
“This paints a picture of Trump completely unhinged and completely losing all control, and to his base they see him as someone who is in charge at all times. This is completely against that,” said the advisor.
The Trump adviser, who was in text chat with several other Trump associates and allies during the hearing, said “no one is taking this lightly.”
“For the first time since the hearings began, no one is denying this,” the adviser said.
Another Trump ally told CNN that the testimony of Hutchinson, a former top aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, would seal Meadows’ fate as “persona non grata” to the former president.
“This is one of the reasons [Trump] is furious with Meadows. He was already freezing, but now he will be persona non grata,” said this person.
The startling revelations of Hutchinson’s testimony about Trump’s erratic behavior and mood on Jan. 6 could make it easier for Republican presidential hopefuls to challenge the former president to a primary should he run, Trump’s ally added. ready.
“This is basically a campaign commercial for (Florida Gov.) Ron DeSantis 2024,” Trump’s ally said.
Trump, as he often does with aides and allies with whom he was once close but later turned against him, claimed on Tuesday that he “barely knows[s]Hutchinson and personally rejected a request she had made to join his post-chairmanship staff at Mar-a-Lago.
“When she asked to go to Florida with certain others on my team after I served a full term in office, I personally declined her request,” Trump told Truth Social during Hutchinson’s live testimony.
Trump on Tuesday attempted to retaliate against Hutchinson’s testimony, claiming she was “very upset and angry that I didn’t want her” at his Palm Beach residence.
The former president’s attempt to distance himself from Hutchinson, whom he described as “bad news” on Tuesday, came after the commission showed views of the West Wing to show how close she was to the Oval Office as an assistant to Meadows. Multiple former White House officials also publicly vouched for Hutchinson’s proximity to Trump and his chief of staff before and during her appearance on Tuesday.
“Anyone who downplays the role of Cassidy Hutchinson or her access to the West Wing also fails to understand how the Trump [White House] worked or is trying to discredit her because they are afraid of how damning this testimony is,” said former White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews. tweeted†
In response, a former White House staffer said, “Everyone high up at the WH knew her. And even if Trump didn’t know her name, he certainly recognized her. She traveled with Mark before every trip on AF1. In addition, this former aide said that while Tuesday’s testimony was crazy, it’s also 100% believable given what this person knew after working in the White House.
The most surprising episode for some aides to date was when Hutchinson told of an incident she heard secondhand in which Trump allegedly tried to grab the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle so he could get to the Capitol on January 6. be driven. After the testimony, a Secret Service official familiar with the matter told CNN that Tony Ornato, the then-Deputy White House chief of staff, denies telling Hutchinson that the former president was driving or an agent on his detail. grabbed.
Ex-assistant was backstage with Trump at his January 6 meeting. This is what she heard him say
Trump has previously denied reporting on Hutchinson’s leaked testimony, claiming earlier this month on his Truth Social platform that he “never said, or even thought to say, ‘Hang Mike Pence.’”
“This is either a made-up story of someone who wants to be a star, or fake news!” he wrote at the time.
But one person close to Trump said he was nervous about Tuesday’s hearing, which featured live testimony from Hutchinson. Ahead of the commission’s announcement on Monday, this individual said Trump felt triumphant amid successive Supreme Court decisions protecting the right to conceal a gun and ending the constitutional right to abortion.
“He certainly didn’t expect such a twist,” said the person close to Trump.
The former president and his allies plan to appoint Hutchinson as a junior aide who had little influence within the West Wing, despite her proximity to both the then president and his then chief of staff. Hutchinson served with the Office of Legislative Affairs before becoming a top aide to Meadows and eyewitnessed several key episodes leading up to January 6, in addition to seeing some real-time responses from Trump that day.
Trump was particularly concerned about what Hutchinson could say about his state of mind and response to the Jan. 6 rioters, said a second person close to him.
Hutchinson’s proximity to Meadows kept the former White House chief of staff on high alert ahead of Tuesday’s hearing.
Hutchinson “operated as an executive assistant to him,” said one person familiar with their relationship and her understanding of his daily schedule, conversations and interactions with Trump is unparalleled.
“I think the committee has kept fire on Meadows so far, but today is going to be a Meadows day,” the person said.
Meadows personally promoted Hutchinson from the White House Office of Legislative Affairs to his office in the West Wing, where this individual said she “gained tremendous access and tremendous visibility” in his relationship with Trump and several top GOP lawmakers.
A second person familiar with the case said Hutchinson did not receive any support from Meadows when she became entangled in the Jan. 6 commission’s investigation, but has kept in touch with some of his other aides.
Now Meadows and his allies worry they can continue to haunt him.
They are closely monitoring Tuesday’s hearing to see what new information Hutchinson reveals in her affidavit, said the second source, who noted that Meadows is specifically concerned her appearance could further undermine his relationship with Trump.
Trump has privately complained to allies in recent months about text messages Meadows forwarded to the House panel before he ended his partnership, and a book Meadows wrote with surprising new details about the seriousness of Trump’s battle with Covid-19 made the difference. former president also angry .
This story was updated Tuesday with additional reporting.