Actor Sean Penn sits with former Washington police officer Michael Fanone, Metropolitan police officer Daniel Hodges and Metropolitan police officer Harry Dunn, all of whom were assaulted during the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, during the f
Actor Sean Penn sits with former Washington police officer Michael Fanone, Metropolitan police officer Daniel Hodges and Metropolitan police officer Harry Dunn, all of whom were assaulted during the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, during the fifth public hearing of the U. Reuters / JIM BOURG

Then-President Donald Trump dismissed concerns that supporters were armed with guns at his Jan. 6, 2021, rally preceding the U.S. Capitol riot, and he later tried to grab the steering wheel of his Secret Service limousine in a failed bid to direct it to the Capitol, a former aide testified on Tuesday.

Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, described Trump supporters being armed with AR-15-style rifles and other weapons in testimony on Tuesday to the House of Representatives select committee.

Instead, Trump expressed anger that the Secret Service, charged with protecting the president, was using metal-detecting magnetometers to keep armed people out of the fenced-off area where he gave a fiery speech in which he repeated his false claims that his 2020 election defeat was the result of fraud.

"Take the effing mags away; they're not here to hurt me," Hutchinson quoted Trump as saying that morning, referring to the weapons that were being carried.

Magnetometers dot U.S. government buildings and outdoor events throughout Washington to protect officials and tourists.

Following the rally, Hutchinson testified, Trump got into an altercation with Secret Service agents who were refusing to drive him to the Capitol as his supporters stormed the historic building.

"'I'm the effing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,'" Hutchinson quoted an irate Trump as saying. She added that Trump tried from the back seat of the car to grab the steering wheel of "The Beast," as the heavily-armored presidential vehicle is known.

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

The House of Representatives committee for more than a year has been investigating the first attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power in U.S. history.

Speaking in soft but assured tones, Hutchinson painted a picture of panicked White House officials bristling at the possibility of 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 then certifying the victory of Democrat Joe Biden over the Republican Trump in the 2020 election.


Their worries focused on the potential criminal charges Trump and others could face.

"We're going to get charged with every crime imaginable," Hutchinson said White House counselor Pat Cipollone told her if Trump were to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

"'We need to make sure that this doesn't happen, this would be a really terrible idea for us. We have serious legal concerns if we go up to the Capitol that day,'" Cipollone said, Hutchinson testified.

Hutchinson, who sat doors away from Trump's Oval Office, testified that just days before the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Meadows knew of the looming violence that could unfold.

"'Things might get real, read bad on Jan. 6,'" she quoted him as saying inside the White House on Jan. 2 with her boss.

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani, an adviser to Trump, said about Jan. 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,'" Hutchinson testified.

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 Jan. 6."

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson praised Hutchinson's "courage" in coming forth to testify to the committee.

In video testimony during the last hearing last week, Hutchinson told the committee that Republican allies of Trump had sought White House pardons after supporting his attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

Testimony at the committee's five prior hearings has shown how Trump riled thousands of supporters with false claims that he lost the 2020 election to Biden because of massive voter fraud.

This month's hearings featured videotaped testimony from figures including Trump's oldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and his former attorney general, Bill Barr. They and other witnesses testified that they did not believe Trump's false claims of widespread fraud and tried to dissuade him of them.

Dozens of courts, election officials and reviews by Trump's own administration rejected his claims of fraud, including outlandish stories about an Italian security firm and the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tampering with U.S. ballots.

Trump, who is publicly flirting with another White House run in 2024, denies wrongdoing and accuses the committee of engaging in a political witch hunt.

During the assault on the Capitol, thousands of Trump supporters smashed windows, fought with police and sent lawmakers, including Trump's vice president, Mike Pence, fleeing for their lives.

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.