‘It’s a bombshell’: Trump aides left speechless by Hutchinson’s testimony
Trump was already bracing for an explosive day of testimony from Hutchinson, who previously told the House Select Committee that the former president endorsed rioters chanting violent threats against Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6, 2021.
« It paints a picture of Trump being completely unbalanced and completely losing control, which his base sees him as someone who commands at all times. It completely flies in the face of that, » the adviser added.
Trump’s adviser, who was in a group text chat with several other Trump aides and allies during the hearing, said « no one is taking this lightly. »
« For the first time since hearings began, no one is rejecting this, » the adviser said.
Another Trump ally told CNN that testimony from Hutchinson, a former senior aide to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, would seal Meadows’ fate as the former president’s « persona non grata. »
« That’s one of the reasons [Trump] is furious with Meadows. He was already frozen but now he will be persona non grata, » the person said.
The startling revelations from Hutchinson’s testimony about Trump’s erratic behavior and mindset on Jan. 6 could make it easier for Republican presidential candidates to challenge the former president in a primary should he run, added the Trump ally.
« This is basically a campaign ad for (Florida Governor) Ron DeSantis 2024, » the Trump ally said.
Trump claims he barely knows Hutchinson
Trump, as he often does with aides and allies he was once close to but later turned on him, claimed on Tuesday that he « barely knows[s]Hutchinson and personally turned down a request she made to join his post-presidency team at Mar-a-Lago.
« When she asked to go with some other members of my team to Florida after completing a full term, I personally denied her request, » Trump said on Truth Social during Hutchinson’s live testimony.
Trump tried to frame Hutchinson’s testimony on Tuesday as revenge, saying she was « very upset and angry that I don’t want her » at his Palm Beach residence.
The former president’s attempt to distance himself from Hutchinson, which he called « bad news » on Tuesday, came after the committee showed renderings of the West Wing to demonstrate how close she was to the Oval Office as Meadows’ assistant. Several former White House aides also publicly attested to Hutchinson’s closeness to Trump and his chief of staff before and during his Tuesday appearance.
In response to this, a former White House aide said, « Everyone at the WH knew her. And even if Trump didn’t know her name, he most definitely recognized her. She traveled on AF1 with Mark to every trip. » Additionally, this former aide said that while Tuesday’s testimony was insane, it’s also 100% believable given what this person knew after working in the White House.
The most surprising episode for some aides so far was when Hutchinson recounted an incident she had heard about secondhand where Trump allegedly tried to rush the wheel of the presidential vehicle so he could be driven to the Capitol on January 6. After the testimony, a Secret Service official with knowledge of the matter told CNN that then-White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato denies telling Hutchinson that the former president seized the steering wheel or an agent. on its detail.
Trump was nervous about the testimony
Trump has previously denied reporting Hutchinson’s leaked testimony, saying on his Truth Social platform earlier this month that he « never said, or even thought to say, ‘Hang Mike Pence’. »
« It’s either a story made up by someone looking to become a star, or fake news! » he wrote at the time.
But a person close to Trump said he was nervous about Tuesday’s hearing, which features live testimony from Hutchinson. Ahead of the committee’s announcement on Monday, this person said Trump felt triumphant amid back-to-back Supreme Court rulings protecting the right to conceal carrying a firearm and ending the constitutional right to abortion.
« He certainly didn’t expect a turn like this, » the person close to Trump said.
The former president and his allies plan to make Hutchinson a junior aide who had little influence inside the West Wing, despite her closeness to the then president and his then chief of staff . Hutchinson served in the Office of Legislative Affairs before becoming a top aide to Meadows and was an eyewitness to several key episodes leading up to Jan. 6, in addition to witnessing some of Trump’s real-time reactions this that day.
Trump was particularly concerned about what Hutchinson might say about his state of mind and his response to the Jan. 6 rioters, a second person close to him said.
Prairies on high alert
Hutchinson’s closeness to Meadows put the former White House chief of staff on high alert ahead of Tuesday’s hearing.
Hutchinson « functioned like an executive assistant to him, » said a person familiar with their relationship, and her understanding of his daily schedule, conversations and interactions with Trump is unmatched.
« I think the committee has held its fire on Meadows so far, but today is going to be Meadows day, » the person said.
Meadows personally promoted Hutchinson from the White House Office of Legislative Affairs to his West Wing office, where that person said « she’s had tremendous access and tremendous visibility » in her relationship with Trump and several of the top GOP lawmakers.
A second person familiar with the matter said Hutchinson received no support from Meadows as she became entangled in the January 6 committee investigation, but stayed in contact with some of her other assistants.
Now Meadows and his allies fear it will come back to haunt him.
They are closely monitoring Tuesday’s hearing to see what new information Hutchinson reveals in his sworn testimony, said the second source, who noted that Meadows is particularly concerned that her appearance could further strain her relationship with Trump.
Trump has privately complained to allies in recent months about text messages Meadows delivered to the House panel before he halted his cooperation, and a book Meadows wrote that contained startling new details about the severity of the Trump’s battle with Covid-19 also angered the former president.
This story was updated with additional reports on Tuesday.
CNN’s Josh Campbell contributed to this report.