Kinzinger says Hutchinson has ‘more courage than most in GOP’
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) on Thursday said former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified before the House Jan. 6 select committee this week, has “more courage than most” in the Republican Party.
Hutchinson, who previously worked as a special assistant to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, appeared before the Jan. 6 panel on Tuesday, where she answered questions under oath about what went on in the White House before, during and after the Capitol riot.
Hutchinson’s public testimony was a surprise — the committee announced the hearing 24 hours before it was slated to begin, after panel members said presentations would be put on pause until July. Before her public testimony on Tuesday, Hutchinson spoke to select committee investigators behind closed doors four times.
Kinzinger, one of the two Republican lawmakers serving on the committee, called Hutchinson, now 26, a “hero” and “a real patriot.”
“I want to again say, Cassidy Hutchinson is a hero and a real patriot (not a faux ‘patriot’ that hates America so much they would attempt a coup.),” Kinzinger wrote on Twitter Thursday.
“Of course they will try to bully and intimidate her. But she isn’t intimidated. More courage than most in GOP,” he added.
During an appearance on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Wednesday night, Kinzinger, a frequent critic of his GOP colleagues and the Republican Party, said Hutchinson was “showing far more courage than her boss, and showing far more courage than 99.8 percent of Republican members of Congress, or 100.”
Among the shocking revelations Hutchinson delivered during her public hearing was that Trump allegedly knew the crowd at his Ellipse speech was armed, but did not care because they were “not here to hurt me,” the ex-aide recalled the then-president saying. Trump, knowing the crowd had weapons, still directed his supporters to march to the Capitol, she said.
Hutchinson, however, is now facing scrutiny for part of her testimony pertaining to a car ride Trump took after his speech at the Ellipse on Jan. 6. Hutchinson said she was told that Trump, angry he was not allowed to go to the Capitol with his supporters, lunged for the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle in which he was riding.
The ex-aide said Robert Engel, the head of Trump’s security detail, grabbed the president’s arm and instructed him to take his hand off the steering wheel.
“Trump then used his free hand to lunge at Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson told the committee.
Hutchinson said she learned of the incident from Tony Ornato, then deputy White House chief of staff. She also said Engel was in the room when Ornato was telling the story, and noted that the head of security did not refute any details.
Trump denied lunging at the Secret Service on Thursday, telling Newsmax in an interview “who would do that? I would grab a Secret Service person by the throat?”
Additionally, multiple outlets are now reporting that Ornato first heard of the alleged incident during the hearing, and that Engel and the driver of the vehicle are prepared to testify that Trump did not physically attack or assault them, or lunge at the steering wheel.
But Hutchinson is standing by her testimony, and lawmakers on the select committee are emphasizing her credibility.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chairwoman of the committee, told ABC News in an interview that she is “absolutely confident” in Hutchinson’s testimony.
A number of Republican figures have testified before the Jan. 6 select committee in both public and private settings, including Hutchinson, Arizona state House Speaker Rusty Bowers, former Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and members of the Trump family.
Others, however, have stonewalled the committee. Former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro and former Trump White House strategist Stephen Bannon have both been indicted for contempt of Congress after they defied subpoenas from the panel.
The committee made its latest bid for cooperation on Wednesday, when it subpoenaed former White House counsel Pat Cipollone. He previously met with committee investigators in April, but did not participate in a formal recorded deposition.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Cheney said they were interested in hearing from Cipollone after their investigation “revealed evidence that Mr. Cipollone repeatedly raised legal and other concerns about President Trump’s activities on Jan. 6 and in the days that preceded.”
“While the Select Committee appreciates Mr. Cipollone’s earlier informal engagement with our investigation, the committee needs to hear from him on the record, as other former White House counsels have done in other congressional investigations,” they added.