Who is Cassidy Hutchinson and what has she told the Jan. 6 committee?
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection has kept a tight lid on its plans for televised hearings slated to take place this month, but that hasn’t stopped speculation about who might be called to testify.
Among the names that have been floated as a potential witness in the highly anticipated hearings is that of Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who has already been cited as the source of multiple revelations uncovered by the select committee’s probe.
Hutchinson, who served as a special assistant to the president for legislative affairs, was subpoenaed in November 2021, along with several other former Trump administration officials who, the panel believed, had relevant information regarding the former president’s activities on Jan. 6 and the role he and his aides played in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
According to her subpoena, Hutchinson was not only at the White House on Jan. 6 but she’d been with Trump during his speech at the “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse, where he urged his supporters to “fight like hell” before promising to march with them to the Capitol.
She also emailed Georgia officials directly following Meadows’s trip to attend that state’s election audit, according to the subpoena, and was present for other key meetings and conversations at the White House leading up to Jan. 6.
Unlike her former boss, whose refusal to cooperate with House investigators has earned him a Justice Department referral for criminal contempt charges, Hutchinson has appeared before the committee on three separate occasions since the beginning of this year. In fact, following her most recent deposition last month, a source reportedly told CNN that Hutchinson believes she’s being forced to testify due to Meadows’s refusal to comply with his own subpoena. The same source said Hutchinson will likely make another appearance before the committee, possibly during the upcoming public hearings, according to CNN.
A spokesperson for the Jan. 6 committee declined to comment on whether Hutchinson will be called as a witness at the hearings, the first of which is set for June 9. Hutchinson’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News.
While much remains unknown about what Hutchinson has told the select committee so far, a handful of key details have emerged from her closed-door depositions that seem likely to feature prominently in the case House investigators hope to present to the American public this summer.
Here’s a look at some of the key revelations that have already been attributed to Hutchinson, and how they might factor into the public hearings.
Meadows and others pressed ahead with plans to overturn Trump’s election loss, court filing says, even after White House counsel had deemed them not “legally sound.”
The select committee’s legal battle against Meadows, who has sued to block the panel’s subpoenas, may offer clues on how Hutchinson’s testimony could be used in the hearings.
In an April court filing, the select committee cited sections of Hutchinson’s testimony as proof of the former chief’s involvement in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election and that he had pursued unlawful plans to make that happen.
According to the filing, Hutchinson told the committee that the White House Counsel’s Office repeatedly objected on legal grounds to a plan to push Republican officials in battleground states that had voted for Biden to send alternate, pro-Trump slates of electors to Congress when lawmakers met on Jan. 6 to certify the Electoral College vote count.
Hutchinson told the committee that the counsel’s office had concluded that the alternate electors plan was not legally sound potentially as early as November 2021, and that this conclusion was raised during multiple meetings at the White House involving Meadows, other Trump associates like Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and members of Congress including Reps. Scott Perry, R-Pa., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Louie Gohmert, R-Texas.
“Despite that advice, the plan moved forward,” the committee’s filing states.
The role played by Trump and advisers like Meadows has been a key focus of the committee’s investigation, and the Guardian reported last month that the upcoming hearings are expected to highlight how the Trump White House pursued potentially illegal methods, including the plot to send fake electors to Congress to subvert Joe Biden’s win and secure a second term for Trump.
Meadows was warned about the possibility of violence on Jan. 6, filing says
Another focus of the panel’s investigation has been the role Trump advisers played in organizing the events that took place on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify the Electoral College results. Those events include the rally at the Ellipse that preceded the Capitol riot, which left five people dead and more than 140 police officers injured.
In that same April court filing, the select committee also cited Hutchinson’s testimony as evidence that Meadows went ahead with plans for Trump’s Jan. 6 rally in Washington despite receiving direct warnings of violence that day.
The filing includes quotes from Hutchinson's March 7 deposition in which she told investigators, “I know that there were concerns brought forward to Mr. Meadows,” and “I know that people had brought information forward to him that had indicated that there could be violence on the 6th. But, again, I’m not sure if he — what he did with that information.”
Specifically, Hutchinson told the committee that in early January, Meadows had discussed the potential for violence on Jan. 6 with Anthony Ornato, a senior Secret Service agent who also served as Trump’s White House chief of operations.
“I just remember Mr. Ornato coming in and saying that we had intel reports saying that there could be violence on the 6th,” Hutchinson said. “And Mr. Meadows said, All right, let’s talk about it.”
Hutchinson said Ornato had raised the subject with Meadows on his way out of the office one evening and the two discussed it briefly.
“I believe they went to the office for maybe five minutes,” she said. “It was very quick.”
Based on the sections of Hutchinson’s testimony that have been released by the select committee, it’s not clear whether she offered any further details about the warnings Meadows received, or whether he was warned specifically about the possibility that Trump supporters protesting the former president’s loss in D.C. on Jan. 6 could turn violent. Shortly after the rally at the Ellipse, a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
Meadows reportedly burned papers after Scott Perry meeting
Recent reports suggest Hutchinson has continued to provide the select committee with other relevant details about the former chief of staff’s behavior in the lead-up to Jan. 6.
According to Politico, Hutchinson told the panel during her latest deposition last month that she saw Meadows burn documents in his office following a meeting with Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., in the weeks after the 2020 election.
Perry has emerged as another key player in the select panel’s investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn his election defeat and the events leading up to Jan. 6. Testimony and documents obtained by the committee have identified Perry as the first link between the former president and Jeffrey Clark, then a little-known senior official at the Justice Department.
During his final weeks in the White House, Trump reportedly conspired with Clark to try to use the DOJ to sow doubt about the election results — even after the FBI failed to find evidence of widespread voter fraud He also came close to installing Clark as acting attorney general before several top aides threatened to resign in protest.
It’s not clear whether Hutchinson told investigators which papers Meadows had reportedly incinerated or if they should have been preserved under federal records laws. The select committee has uncovered other efforts by Meadows and Perry to conceal their communications in the wake of the 2020 election, including in one text message exchange in which Perry told Meadows he’d “just sent you something on Signal,” an encrypted messaging app.
Trump reportedly expressed support for hanging Mike Pence
Another key line of inquiry for the select committee has been what, exactly, the president was doing while an angry mob of his supporters violently ransacked the Capitol, and why it took 187 minutes before National Guard troops and additional police were sent to the Capitol to stop them.
Investigators may seek to answer those questions by sharing one witness’s account, which has been reportedly confirmed by Hutchinson, of a telling scene that took place at the White House on Jan. 6.
According to the account that was provided to the Jan. 6 committee, not long after rioters began chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” outside the Capitol, Meadows told colleagues in his office that Trump was complaining about his vice president being evacuated to safety. According to the New York Times, which was first to report the story, Meadows “then told the colleagues that Mr. Trump had said something to the effect of, maybe Mr. Pence should be hanged.”
The Times reported that the select committee first heard about Trump’s comment from at least one witness, and then confirmed it with Hutchinson, who was present in Meadows’s office when he relayed what Trump had said. Meadows’s lawyer denied the account in the Times.
The Times report notes that it’s unclear what the tone of Trump’s comment was, but that it underscores his frustration with Pence, who’d refused to succumb to the president’s pressure campaign to get him to block Congress’s certification of the Electoral College results that day.
The anecdote also seems to shed light on Trump’s initial reaction to the riot, and why he did not act immediately to call off the mob despite repeated pleas from members of his family and Republicans in Congress to do so.