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'I'm the effing president, take me up to the Capitol' - Trump staffer's stunning evidence

Politics

Donald Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of his presidential limousine on January 6, 2021, when his security detail declined to take him to the US Capitol where his supporters were rioting, a former aide says.

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The then-president dismissed concerns that some supporters gathered for his fiery speech outside the White House that day carried AR-15-style rifles, instead asking security to stop screening attendees with magnetometers so the crowd would look larger, the aide testified on Tuesday.

“Take the effing mags away; they’re not here to hurt me,” Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to Trump’s then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, quoted Trump as saying that morning.

Trump struggled with Secret Service agents who insisted he return to the White House rather than join supporters storming the Capitol where Congress was meeting to certify his rival Democratic President Joe Biden’s victory, Hutchinson testified.

“‘I’m the effing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” Hutchinson quoted an enraged Trump as saying. She said Trump tried from the back seat to grab the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle.

It was one of several of Hutchinson’s disclosures at the sixth day of House hearings into the Capitol assault by Trump’s followers, roused by his false claims his 2020 election defeat was the result of fraud.

On social media Trump denied having grabbed the wheel.

“Her Fake story that I tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House Limousine in order to steer it to the Capitol Building is ‘sick’ and fraudulent,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, his social media app.

Dozens of courts, election officials and reviews by Trump’s own administration rejected his fraud claims.

Four people died the day of the attack, one fatally shot by police and the others of natural causes. More than 100 police officers were injured, and one died the next day. Four officers later died by suicide.

At the end of about two hours of testimony, Liz Cheney, one of two Republicans on the nine-member House panel, presented possible evidence of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

She showed messages to unidentified witnesses advising them that an unidentified person would be watching their testimony closely and expecting loyalty.

Hutchinson told the committee that Meadows and Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani had sought pardons from Trump.

The hastily called hearing marked the first time this month, during six hearings, that a former White House official appeared for live testimony.

Hutchinson painted a picture of panicked White House officials worrying about Trump joining what was to become a violent mob pushing its way into the Capitol, hunting for then-vice president Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers who were certifying the victory of Biden over the Republican Trump.

“We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable,” Hutchinson said White House counsellor Pat Cipollone told her if Trump were to go to the Capitol on January 6.

Hutchinson testified that days before the attack, Meadows knew of the looming violence that could unfold.

“‘Things might get real, real bad on January 6,’” she quoted him as saying on January 2.

She testified that Giuliani had said of January 6: “‘We’re going to the Capitol, it’s going to be great. The president’s going to be there; he’s going to look powerful.’”

At that point, she told the House committee of seven Democrats and two Republicans: “It was the first moment that I remembered feeling scared and nervous of what could happen on January 6.”

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