Secret Service pledges response to Trump motorcade allegations

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(The Hill) — The Secret Service said on Tuesday that it will have more to say about allegations that former President Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of his vehicle and then lunged at the head of his security detail when informed he would not be able to join his supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“The Secret Service has been cooperating fully with the select committee since its inception in spring of 2021 and we will continue to do so by responding formally and on the record to the committee regarding new allegations that surfaced in today’s testimony,” the agency said in a statement.

The revelation about Trump’s behavior came Tuesday from Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows who testified before the House committee investigating the attack.

Hutchinson said she learned of the episode from Tony Ornato, Trump’s deputy chief of staff, and Robert Engel, the special agent in charge for Secret Service on Jan. 6.

“’I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now,'” Trump said when Engel informed him they could not safely make the unscheduled journey, according to Hutchinson.

“The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir you need to take your hand off the steering wheel, we’re going back to the West Wing, we’re not going to the Capitol,’” she added.

“Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson testified. 

Several news outlets have since reported Engel and the driver are prepared to testify that neither was assaulted by Trump, and that the former president did not try to grab the steering wheel.

The Jan. 6 committee did not respond to request for comment. 

“Ms. Hutchinson testified, under oath, and recounted what she was told. Those with knowledge of the episode also should testify under oath,” her lawyer, Jody Hunt, wrote on Twitter. 

Hutchinson said Ornato relayed what had happened in the car, but Engel was standing next to him while he told the story.

“Did Mr. Engel correct or disagree with any part of this story from Mr. Ornato?” the Jan. 6 panel’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), asked after Hutchinson recounted the event.

“Did Mr. Engel or Mr. Ornato ever after that tell you that what Mr. Ornato had just said was untrue?” she asked.

Hutchinson answered no to both.

“Mr. Engel did not correct or disagree with any part of the story,” she said.

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