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The Jan. 6 Committee is not publicly discussing any actions to verify or back up a key claim former Trump administration aide Cassidy Hutchinson made in a hearing last week.
Hutchinson, who worked closely with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, detailed several major events through video and in-person testimony during the hearing. The most explosive was that former President Donald Trump, upset that the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) wouldn’t take him to the Capitol, allegedly tried to grab a steering wheel of a presidential vehicle and lunged at an agent.
Hutchinson was describing what she said was a version of events former deputy chief of staff for operations Tony Ornato recounted to her after the fact on Jan. 6. Hutchinson said Ornato told her the incident happened after Trump exited his rally on the Ellipse and demanded to be taken to the Capitol, where Congress was certifying the presidential election results.
“The president reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. [Secret Service agent Bobby] Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol,'” Hutchinson said, citing Ornato. “Trump then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel. When Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he motioned toward his clavicles.”
The Jan. 6 Committee Tuesday did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital asking if it has attempted to speak to Ornato or Engel since the hearing. It also did not respond to questions on if it reached out to the Secret Service to verify the allegations, if there may be further subpoenas related to Hutchinson’s claims, or if it’s taken any other actions to verify what she said.
USSS spokesperson Anthony Gugliemi said the agency does not have any information to share when asked if the committee has taken further steps to verify Hutchinson’s claims.
SECRET SERVICE SAYS JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE DIDN’T REACH OUT BEFORE HUTCHINSON TESTOMONY ON TRUMP LUNGING AT AGENT
A source close to Ornato told Fox News that Ornato was shocked when Hutchinson made the allegation about the steering wheel. That source said both Ornato and Engel would be willing to testify to the committee to refute that part of Hutchinson’s story. The USSS spokesman Gugliemi also confirmed to Fox News Wednesday that the committee did not contact it in the days before the hearing to verify Hutchinson’s claims.
In the days since Hutchinson’s testimony was initially disputed, several members of the committee have spoken publicly and stood by Hutchinson. They also say they would be happy to hear from anyone disputing Hutchinson under oath. But none have detailed further efforts by the committee to verify the parts of her testimony that are disputed.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that anyone wishing to dispute Hutchinson’s testimony shouldn’t do so through the media, and should attach their names to their comments.
“Well, there’s information I can’t say yet, but we certainly would say that Cassidy Hutchinson has testified under oath. We find her credible and anybody that wants to cast disparagement on that, that was firsthand present should come and also testify under oath and not through anonymous sources, quote unquote, and not potentially being an anonymous source,” Kinzinger said.
TONY ORNATO DID NOT BRIEF CASSIDY HUTCHINSON THAT TRUMP TRIED TO LUNGE AT SECRET SERVICE AGENT: SOURCES
“Well, I’m not going to say what we do or don’t have in terms of corroboration,” he told CNN. “But let me say this. What she said is this is what she heard.”
Kinzinger added that nobody is disputing some 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 committee to release more information in the future. But he did not address whether the committee is taking any steps currently to check out what Hutchinson said about Trump allegedly lunging at a Secret Service agent or grabbing the steering wheel of his vehicle.
Separately, Kinzinger has also highlighted comments from former Trump White House officials about Ornato allegedly not being a truthful person. “There seems to be a major 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 Sunday show appearances.
“The Committee is not going to stand by and watch her character be assassinated by anonymous sources and by men who are claiming executive privilege. And so we look forward very much to additional testimony under oath on a whole range of issues,” Cheney said on ABC.
Cheney was pressed by ABC about whether the committee has further evidence to corroborate what Hutchinson said. Cheney said there was evidence about Trump’s “intense anger” when he was told he could not go to the Capitol and had to return to the White House. But she did not detail any further evidence about the lunging and steering wheel grabbing incident under dispute.
“We always expected Trumpworld to try to discredit her, and they are not disappointing us in that regard,” Lofgren said about Hutchinson on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
But asked about steps it’s taking to corroborate what she said, Lofgren said the committee had spoken to Ornato previously, said the committee would welcome him back if he wishes 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 past testimony, said the committee would welcome those men to testify again and also pointed to other parts of Hutchinson’s testimony that are not disputed.
Hutchinson is also standing by her testimony, in statements through her lawyers.
On Wednesday, White House counsel Pat Cipollone has agreed to testify before the House Jan. 6 Commission in a private meeting on Friday, Fox News has confirmed.
His interview comes after Hutchinson testified before the committee that Cipollone was concerned that if Trump’s Jan. 6 rally led to a march on the Capitol, it would create legal exposure for possible criminal charges such as obstruction or inciting a riot.
Fox News’ Lakia Atkins, Andres Del Aguila, David Spunt and Meghan Tome contributed to this report.