Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide in former U.S. president Donald Trump’s White House, is making a surprise appearance Tuesday before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection — an effort by the panel to provide new details about Trump’s inner circle as he fought to overturn his election defeat.
The 25-year-old, who was a special assistant and aide to former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, has already provided a trove of information to congressional investigators and has sat for multiple interviews behind closed doors. But the committee called the hearing this week to hear her public testimony, raising expectations for new revelations in the nearly yearlong investigation.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee’s chairman, said the panel called the hearing in light of “specific detailed information about what the former president and his aides were doing and saying in those critical hours.”
Thompson praised Hutchinson for her courage but did not detail the new information or what she would say as he opened the hearing.
The unexpected hearing was announced with 24 hours notice while lawmakers are away from Washington on a two-week recess. The committee had said last week that there would be no more hearings until July.
The committee’s investigation has been ongoing during the hearings, as the nine-member panel has continued to probe the attack by supporters of Trump.
While it is unclear what new evidence she might provide Tuesday, Hutchinson’s testimony is likely to tell a first-hand story of Trump’s pressure campaign, and how the former president responded after the violence began, more vividly than any other witness the committee has called in thus far.
In brief excerpts of testimony revealed in court filings, Hutchinson told the committee she was in the room for White House meetings where challenges to the election were debated and discussed, including with several Republican lawmakers. In one instance, Hutchinson described seeing Meadows incinerate documents after a meeting in his office with Republican Rep. Scott Perry, Politico reported in May.
She also revealed that the White House counsel’s office cautioned against plans to enlist fake electors in swing states, including in meetings involving Meadows and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Attorneys for the president advised that the plan was not “legally sound,” Cassidy said.
The committee has used the hearings to detail the pressure from Trump and his allies to deny an election win for Joe Biden. The panel has heard testimony about the pressure put on then vice-president Mike Pence, on the states that were certifying Biden’s win and on the Justice Department.
The panel is expected to produce a report by year’s end. Two former Trump administration figures, Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, are facing criminal proceedings for refusing to co-operate with subpoenas from the committee.
Electoral fraud claims persist
The seven Democrats and two Republicans on the panel have argued the threat to elections persists. Millions of Americans still incorrectly believe Trump won, according to polls, while a Tuesday night primary in Colorado’s secretary of state race is among many state and local elections featuring candidates who believe the 2020 election was not fairly decided.
Front Burner25:35The Jan. 6 case against Donald Trump
Dozens of cases were brought before the U.S. courts and rejected. The Trump administration’s own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency characterized the election in a statement as “the most secure in American history.”
Bill Barr, Trump’s attorney general until December 2020, told the Jan. 6 committee in a sworn deposition that no fraud was unearthed that would change the outcome of the race, and that many of the claims of electoral fraud coming from Trump and his allies were nonsensical.