The January 6 committee is turning up the heat on the Secret Service after a spokesman for the agency claimed that agents were willing to testify under oath and refute parts of the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide to ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Ms Hutchinson testified weeks ago to the select committee in Washington DC and said under oath that she was told by an agent that Donald Trump had grown furious with agents in his vehicle after the 6 January 2021 rally at the Ellipse, where he vowed to join his supporters and march on the Capitol.
According to Ms Hutchinson, an agent told her that Mr Trump was enraged by the statements from his agents declining to take him to the Capitol and informing him that he was returning to the residence; he then supposedly lunged at one of them and attempted to grab the steering wheel of a presidential SUV.
One Trump-appointed Secret Service official who supposedly told her about the incident denied, through a Secret Service spokesperson, that the incident in question happened (while not refuting that Mr Trump was irate) and claimed that he would testify under oath, along with others present for the ride back to the White House. But that testimony has yet to materialise and since that statement was released the agency has been enveloped in a criminal investigation over the deletion of text messages sent by agents assigned to the president’s detail on January 6, a revelation that has cast extreme doubt on every public statement the agency has made in recent weeks.
On Sunday two members of the select House committee investigating January 6 told news shows that the agency had yet to cooperate with their requests for testimony, suggesting that agents may be reversing their previous offers to appear. Several have also reportedly obtained private counsel.
“The extent to which there are no text messages from the relevant period of time, the extent to which we have not had the kind of cooperation that we really need to have, those are all the things the committee is going to be looking at in more detail in the coming weeks,” Rep Liz Cheney said on Fox News Sunday.
Rep Adam Kinzinger made a more indirect suggestion that the agency was reversing its offer to cooperate, telling ABC’s Jon Karl: “It is not our decision that they have not [testified] so far”.
In a separate interview Ms Cheney also vowed that the committee would “get to the bottom” of the reason why the agency was unable to produce texts from one of the most significant days for the White House in US history.
The agency was told by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector general to preserve texts from that day before the messages were deleted, according to the OIG’s office. It remains unclear if any will be recoverable or if any agents will face criminal charges for their deletions in clear violation of their orders.