Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House staffer who worked under former President Donald Trump, is reportedly cooperating with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into Trump’s actions and conversations relating to attempts to overturn the 2020 election and the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Hutchinson’s cooperation with the DOJ was first reported on by ABC News, though it’s currently unknown whether she has spoken directly to investigators, provided relevant documents or appeared before the investigation’s grand jury.
Still, her involvement in the inquiry seems to suggest an acceleration of the DOJ’s efforts to gain insight into Trump’s actions and motivations prior to and during the Capitol attack.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday evening that the Justice Department has been investigating Trump’s involvement in a plot by his campaign team to use fake electors to create confusion throughout the Electoral College certification process. Several emails The New York Times published earlier this week suggest that Trump was involved in the process — with one email noting that he “liked” the aggressive approach his team was taking, though some of his lawyers were worried that it was an illegal attempt to usurp the election results.
Hutchinson previously appeared during the January 6 House select committee’s public hearings, revealing in her explosive testimony that Trump was fully aware that some of his loyalists were carrying weapons, including guns. Trump was infuriated when those individuals were not allowed to attend his rally in front of the White House, Hutchinson recounted, noting that Trump had said that those were “my people,” and that they were “not here to hurt me.”
At the end of his speech on January 6, Trump instructed his loyalists to go to the Capitol to interrupt the certification of the 2020 election — with full knowledge that many in the crowd were armed.
Hutchinson also said that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone had expressed concern to her boss, former chief of staff Mark Meadows, about the mob chanting to hang then-Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the certification process and who had refused to go along with the scheme to count fake electors. “You heard him, Pat. [Trump] thinks Mike deserves it,” Meadows responded, according to Hutchinson’s account.
Later in her testimony, Hutchinson said that Trump was irate when his Secret Service detail refused to let him go to the Capitol with the mob; after being told no, the former president tried to grab the steering wheel of the vehicle that was bringing him back to the White House and lunged at another agent who was in the car, she said.
Although Trump claimed that he hardly knew Hutchinson following her testimony, he immediately took part in a smear campaign against her. Trump loyalists spread a story purporting that the two agents that she mentioned in her recollection, Tony Ornato and Bobby Engel, were willing to testify against what she said. Since that time, however, both Ornato and Engel have lawyered up and refused to testify to the committee.
Both Ornato and Engel are deeply loyal to Trump. Ornato has lied in the past to protect Trump’s reputation, including saying that police didn’t clear protesters in front of the White House in order for Trump to hold a photo op in front of a nearby church.