The revelation that the U.S. Secret Service deleted text messages from the day of the Jan. 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol is raising potential parallels with the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to the Trump White House chief of staff, testified on June 26 to the congressional committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 that her boss, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, warned her four days in advance that “Things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6th.” She also testified that President Donald Trump was warned about weapons on hand that day. In spite of that, he still wanted his security to scrap the metal detectors at the site of his White House rally.
The accepted wisdom was that Trump had not planned on going to the Capitol to join the thousands of people he had helped summon there. But Hutchinson testified that Trump had indeed planned on going to the Capitol to join the demonstrators.
She said under oath that she was told he was so intent on going that he tried to grab the steering wheel, and even lunged at Bobby Engel, one of the Secret Service agents in the SUV, to direct the vehicle to the Capitol. Hutchinson testified that she was told that by Tony Ornato, a Secret Service agent who left to become Trump’s deputy chief of staff, only to return to the service as a senior official.
“Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post, author of two books on the Trump administration and a history of the Secret Service, Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service, said: ‘Sources tell me agents dispute that Donald Trump assaulted any agent or tried to grab the steering wheel on Jan 6. They agree Trump was furious about not being able to go to Capitol with his supporters. They offer to testify under oath.’”
“After her testimony, journalists citing anonymous sources reported that Engel and the driver of Trump’s vehicle were ‘prepared to testify under oath’ to dispute Hutchinson’s account and that Ornato denied telling Hutchinson that Trump ‘grabbed the steering wheel or an agent.’”
But Salon reported Monday that neither Ornato nor Engel have showed up to testify one month later and both have hired private counsel.