State Watch

Republican governor calls Hutchinson testimony ‘very compelling’

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Friday said the testimony former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson gave this week before the House Jan. 6 select committee was “very compelling.”

Cassidy Hutchinson, who worked as a special assistant to former President Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified before the select committee on Tuesday, delivering a fly-on-the-wall account of what the president and top White House officials were doing before, during and after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

A number of Republicans and ex-Trump officials have since sought to dismiss the former aide’s testimony, describing her as a low-level employee and seizing on a second-hand account she relayed to the committee about a car ride Trump took on Jan. 6 that has since come under scrutiny.

Asked about her testimony on Friday, the Arkansas governor, who is a frequent critic of Trump, said the ex-aide “clearly demonstrated her concern and love for our country.”

“Very compelling. I mean, anyone who appreciates the difficulty of someone being 25 and thrust into that incredible closeness to history and what even in her young age understood to be fundamentally wrong, and she testified to it,” Gov. Hutchinson told “CBS Mornings.”

“So my heart goes out to those that really stood firm during that time, and I think she clearly demonstrated her concern and love for our country,” he added.

Pressed on if he believes what she told the committee, the governor said, “I did.”

“She came across with a great deal of credibility,” he added, before criticizing the committee for not allowing cross-examination, which is a frequent point brought up by Republicans.

The governor’s office confirmed that he is not related to Cassidy Hutchinson.

The ex-aide testified before the Jan. 6 panel on Tuesday after speaking with committee investigators four times behind closed doors.

Cassidy Hutchinson told the committee that Trump knew the crowd at his Ellipse speech on Jan. 6 was armed but still directed them to the Capitol. Additionally, she testified that she was told that Trump, angry he was not allowed to go to the Capitol after his speech, lunged at the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle he was riding in.

She also said that Robert Engel, the head of Trump’s Secret Service detail, grasped the president’s arm and told him to take his hand off the steering wheel.

“Trump then used his free hand to lunge at Bobby Engel,” she testified.

She said she heard about the story from Tony Ornato, then deputy White House chief of staff. Engel was in the room when Ornato told her the story and did not refute any of the details, according to the ex-aide.

Trump denied lunging at the Secret Service on Thursday, and multiple outlets have reported that Engel and the driver of the vehicle are prepared to testify that Trump did not attack or assault them or move toward the steering wheel.

Asa Hutchinson on Friday also told CBS that he will not support Trump if he runs for president again in 2024, arguing that “he acted irresponsibly during that time” and that he was a “risk to the nation.”

Additionally, Hutchinson, who cannot run for reelection due to term limits, said he has not made a “commitment” on whether to run for president in 2024, adding, “I’m laying the foundation for that if that is something that’s going to be helpful to our country,” which he has said in the past.

“So we’re looking at it, but no decision will be made till after this election in 2022,” he added on Friday.

Tags Asa Hutchinson Cassidy Hutchinson Jan. 6 hearings Mark Meadows

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