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Investigations

REP. ZOE LOFGREN

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On Tuesday, the House Select Committee hearing featured testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ aide. It was damning. Hutchinson went on the record reiterating what she had told investigators previously, detailing the many things she saw and heard before and during January 6, 2021. Her testimony touched on Trump’s insistence that he join the riot at the Capitol, his knowledge of armed MAGA audience members, the bizarre disappearing act Meadows performed, and the fact that leading up to the “Stop the Steal” rally, Trump’s own lawyer knew that crimes were most likely being committed.

One of the more explosive moments in Hutchinson’s testimony concerned her recounting of what Trump’s former lead Secret Service agent turned political adviser Anthony Ornato told her about Donald Trump’s actions, alleging he attacked his chief security official, Robert “Bobby” Engel, when Engel would not allow him to lead the rioters at the Capitol grounds. This reportedly took place after Trump left the Stop of Steal rally on January 6, 2021.

Since that time, the right-wing media and traditional news outlets have put out not-exactly-verified rumors that Ornato denies ever recounting these events to Meadow’s top aide. Of course, Ornato and Engel have also not appeared under oath to put their money where their mouths are. Whether these two come forward and say Hutchinson has perjured herself or simply say they do not recall remains to be seen.

On Thursday, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who is on the House Select Committee, suggested that Trump’s fundraising may be connected not simply to crimes of scam artistry, but crimes of coercion of witnesses. It seems that Ornato and Engel may be hiding in the shadows finding out where exactly that money is before they go on the record.

The fact of the matter is that Ornato’s move from a senior Secret Service official to a political adviser was seen as a betrayal of the Secret Service’s nonpartisan position in our government.

It has led to the speculations around Vice President Mike Pence’s reticence to get into a car with Secret Service during the January 6. attack on the Capitol.

On Thursday, Lofgren explained to Anderson Cooper on CNN that Donald Trump’s intense fundraising off of the Big Lie is a paper trail with many angles. While it is obvious to most people who have ever followed even a little bit of Donald Trump’s history as a corrupt dirtbag (dating all the way back to the 1970s in New York City), there is a high probability that much of his fundraising has gone into people’s pockets. Lofgren spoke to the fact that money can help buy testimony and offer the promise of legal protections for people who may otherwise be forced to tell the truth about Donald Trump.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN: Let's just say, we're concerned. As you know, in a prior hearing, we talked about the hundreds of millions of dollars that the former president raised. Some of that money is being used to pay for lawyers, for witnesses. and it's not clear that that arrangement is one that is without coercion potential for some of those witnesses. So, let's just say this: It's a concern. And anyone who is trying to dissuade or tamper with a witness should be on notice that that's a crime. And we are perfectly prepared to provide any evidence we have to the proper authorities.

This goes along with the Hutchinson’s own testimony that she had been contacted by “someone attempting to influence her testimony.” It also follows Rep. Liz Cheney’s assertion at Tuesday’s hearing that two witnesses had also told the committee they were being intimidated by people connected to Donald Trump’s circle of conspirators.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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Former President Trump

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Former President Donald Trump joined Newsmax for an interview that aired on Thursday morning in which he spewed out a laundry list of bizarre accusations against ex-White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, whose sworn testimony before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol on Tuesday was absolutely devastating for Trump.

A visibly agitated Trump complained about Hutchinson's recounting of his behavior during the insurrection.

"Some whack job can stay this stuff and get away with it, and other things, that I wanted guns at my rally. Okay, now I'm speaking, why would I want guns? I don't want people having, standing with guns in my rally," he said on Wake Up America.

Hutchinson recalled that Trump believed that his armed supporters were "not there to hurt me."

Trump maintained that "this woman, she wanted to work for me after January 6. She was a big Trump fan. She wanted to work for me in Florida and we chose not to bring her down because I got very bad things."

Next, Trump repeated what he said on Tuesday – that "I hardly knew her," even though his and Hutchinson's West Wing offices were only a few yards apart. "And I said, 'well if she's no good, I got somebody called up, numerous people, that she's not good.'"

Trump then refused to say "why she's not good, plenty of reasons... she was not respected by the people in the White House. So they thought she shouldn't go down. I was going down to Florida with a group of people, great group of people, patriots, and her name was thrown out there and they said, 'stay away from her.' They said bad things about her."

Hutchinson's strange story about Trump trying to hijack his motorcade, which was told to her by Trump's then-deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato, made him particularly upset.

"And then I see her, and again, I hardly know who she is. And then I see this woman getting up and she's making up stories, like one after another, but the craziest of all was that I tried to commandeer – they used that word – I tried to commandeer a car with Secret Service agents telling them to take us down to the Capitol," Trump said. "It was totally false, and that a person can get away with it... and then I watch the Times and The Washington Post, and I get reviews on MSDNC, and CNN, they hardly even talk about the fact that she's been totally discredited."

That is untrue, given that so far, nobody has refuted Hutchinson's damning statements under oath.

Watch below via Vox's Aaron Rupar:

Trump's reaction rekindled widespread suspicions that he is attempting to engage in witness tampering in order to obfuscate the truth.













Those conjectures are not without warrant.

On Thursday afternoon, CNN National Security Reporter Zachary Cohen reported that "multiple sources" revealed to him, anchor Kasie Hunt, and Congressional Correspondent Ryan Nobles that Hutchinson told the bipartisan House panel "that she was contacted by someone who was attempting to influence her testimony."


Reprinted with permission from Alternet.