While details of those who heard the stories differ, Secret Service sources say they were told an angry confrontation had taken place. And their accounts match important parts of Hutchinson’s testimony, who has been attacked as hearsay by Trump and his allies, who have also sought to discredit her general testimony.
Like Hutchinson, a source, a longtime Secret Service employee, told DailyExpertNews that the agents relaying the story described Trump as “demanding” and that the former president said something similar to, “I’m the fucking president of the United States.” States, you can’t tell me what to do.” The source said he originally heard this type of language being used shortly after the incident.
“He kind of jumped forward – from the conversations I had it was unclear that he actually made physical contact, but maybe he did. I don’t know,” the source said. “Nobody said Trump assaulted him; they said he was trying to lunge over the seat — for whatever reason, nobody had any idea.”
The employee said he had heard about the incident several times as early as February 2021 from other agents, including some who were part of the presidential protective detail during that time, but none of whom were involved in the incident.
The source added that agents often told stories of Trump’s temper tantrums, including the throwing and breaking of things by the former president.
The other Secret Service source, who spoke to the driver and another agent who was not there, said he heard Trump lash out verbally at his detail, but not about any physical altercation. Neither source told DailyExpertNews they had heard of Trump trying to take the wheel.
Three of those in attendance for the meeting in the presidential SUV, a modified armored version of a Chevrolet Suburban, were Trump, detail leader Robert “Bobby” Engel, and the driver whose identity is not publicly known at this time.
She testified that Ornato told her Angel had repeatedly informed Trump on his way back to the White House that it was not safe to go to the Capitol.
According to Hutchinson, Ornato said Trump yelled, “I’m the damn president. Take me to the Capitol now.” Trump “then reached out to the front of the vehicle to grab the steering wheel,” Hutchinson recalled Ornato said. She added that, according to Ornato, Trump used his other hand to “lunge” at Engel.
Hutchinson also testified that Trump and her boss, then-president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, were aware of the potential for violence on Jan. 6, 2021, and that Trump supporters had guns when they gathered on the Ellipse that day.
Engel and Ornato both testified before the committee behind closed doors, but their statements were not used in Tuesday’s hearing.
Neither Engel nor Ornato have publicly commented on Hutchinson’s testimony.
A separate Secret Service official previously told DailyExpertNews that Engel denied that Trump grabbed the wheel or lunged at an agent at his detail, and Ornato denied telling Hutchinson the same. The official did not dispute that Trump ordered his agents to take him to the Capitol.
Ornato has a close relationship with Trump and his team, having previously served as chief of his protective division and then being given an unusual leave of absence from his Secret Service duties to be handed over to the White House as deputy chief of staff for operations.
Hutchinson’s account of the alleged incident was one of the most shocking parts of Tuesday’s hearing — adding to an already scathing portrait of how Trump desperately wanted to go to the Capitol at the time.
California Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren, a member of the committee, said the agents can come to the panel and challenge the claims under oath.
“No one denies that the president wanted to go to the Capitol where this armed mob attacked Congress and tried to undo the election,” Lofgren said in an interview on DailyExpertNews’s AC360 Wednesday night. “That’s the main point that was shocking, since the story was about the limousine pendulum. The real legal meaning was that he wanted to go there and nobody disputes that.”
Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida, another Democratic member of the committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press NOW” that “Mr. Ornato did not have as clear-cut memories of this period as I would say Mrs. Hutchinson did.”
“But we’re always happy people remembering things to come back and talk to us,” she added.
Josh Campbell of DailyExpertNews contributed to this report.