Trump rails against Jan. 6 committee during Arizona rally

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(The Hill) – Former President Trump attacked the work of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at a rally supporting several candidates in Arizona on Friday. 

Trump held a rally in Prescott Valley to support his endorsed candidate for governor, Kari Lake, and his endorsed candidate for Senate, Blake Masters. During his speech, he said he was watching the committee’s most recent hearing on Thursday, which focused on Trump’s actions as the riot took place at the Capitol building, and called it a “hoax.” 

Trump also denied testimony that Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, gave to the committee last month. 

Hutchinson said Tony Ornato, Trump’s deputy chief of staff at the time, told her about an incident in the presidential vehicle on Jan. 6 in which Trump became heated when he was told he could not go to the Capitol following his speech at the Ellipse that day. She said Ornato told her that Trump attempted to grab the steering wheel of the vehicle and lunged at a Secret Service agent. 

Hutchinson testified that Robert Engel, the agent that Trump allegedly lunged at, was present when Ornato told her of the incident and Engel did not dispute any details. 

Trump denied Hutchinson’s account, saying he would not have done that and could not physically have. He praised the Secret Service for denying the account

Ornato and Engel have said they would be willing to testify to dispute Hutchinson’s testimony on the incident. 

But the House Jan. 6 committee showed additional witnesses at its hearing on Thursday that seem to support Hutchinson’s testimony. 

Video testimony of a retired Washington, D.C., police officer who was part of the presidential motorcade on Jan. 6 showed him saying that he was told Trump was “adamant” about going to the Capitol and engaged in a “heated discussion” about it. An unidentified former White House employee said Trump was “irate” at not being able to go to the Capitol. 

Trump criticized members of the committee, specifically Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), as well.

He said what the “corrupt establishment” is doing to him is about preserving their power. He claimed his opponents will damage him in any way they can. 

Trump also attacked Arizona state House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R), who testified at a Jan. 6 committee hearing last month. Bowers testified that Trump and his former attorney Rudy Giuliani pressured him to overturn President Biden’s victory in Arizona, but Bowers refused and rejected Trump’s false claims of voter fraud. 

Bowers is currently running for a seat in the Arizona state Senate, and Trump has endorsed his opponent, state Sen. David Farnsworth (R). 

Trump said Bowers is a “RINO coward” — “RINO” meaning “Republican in name only.” He said Bowers “disgraced” the state of Arizona and “did nothing” on election integrity. 

Trump said if he renounced his views, agreed to stay silent and said he would not run for any future political office, “the persecution of Donald Trump would immediately stop.” But he said he cannot do that.

Trump’s speech comes over the same weekend that former Vice President Mike Pence will be in Arizona to campaign for his endorsed candidate in the governor’s race, Karrin Taylor Robson.

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