Former US president Donald Trump angrily lunged at his Secret Service driver and grabbed at the steering wheel of his limousine in a bid to join the crowd as it marched on the Capitol on the day of the deadly insurrection, an aide testified Tuesday.
In some of the most explosive testimony so far to the House committee probing the violence, Cassidy Hutchinson, an assistant to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows, said the president had demanded to be taken to the Capitol after his speech near the White House.
Trump became irate when he was told that it was impossible for security reasons, and he tried to wrestle the Secret Service for control of his official car, Hutchinson testified.
“I'm the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Trump said, according to Hutchinson, who testified that the story was relayed to her by another administration official.
Trump, apparently watching the televised hearing, attempted to discredit Hutchinson in real time in a multiple-post rant on his social media network, dismissing the episode as a “fake story” and calling the hearing a “kangaroo court.”
US media later reported that the Secret Service agents involved may be willing to testify and deny Hutchinson account.
The US Secret Service did not respond to AFP's request for comment.
The congressional panel has spent a year investigating the January 6, 2021 riot that temporarily halted the certifying by Congress of the presidential election result.
It has now held six public hearings to outline its initial finding — that Trump led a criminal conspiracy to overturn his defeat to Joe Biden that led to the violence.
Hutchinson was a central figure in the administration and able to offer the committee its first blow-by-blow account of activity inside the White House.
She testified that Trump and some of his top lieutenants were aware of the possibility of violence — contradicting claims that the assault was spontaneous and had nothing to do with the administration.
'Things might get real, real bad'
Hutchinson said she recalled Meadows saying four days before the insurrection: “Things might get real, real bad on January 6.”
Hutchinson had sought out her boss, she said, after a White House meeting involving Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani. As they were leaving, Giuliani asked her if she was "excited" for January 6.
When she asked what Giuliani meant, Hutchinson recalled that he "responded something to the effect of, ‘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... Talk to the chief about it. He knows about it."
She told Meadows what Giuliani had said, she testified.
“He didn't look up from his phone and said something to the effect of, 'There's a lot going on, Cass, but I don't know. Things might get real, real bad on January 6,'” Hutchinson told the hearing.
Meadows and Trump were aware of the possibility of violence, including that members of the pro-Trump mob were armed when they gathered near the White House on the day of the riot, Hutchinson said.