Democrats' star J6 witness Cassidy Hutchinson made significant changes to her story, memo shows
Normally, revisions to depositions and transcribed interviews involve fixing typographical errors. Cassidy Hutchinson made major changes to her earlier Jan. 6 committee testimony that legal experts say is "entirely new testimony."
Three months after she testified as the Democrats' star witness at the Jan. 6 congressional hearings, former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson submitted significant changes to statements and information she had provided in transcribed interviews with the U.S. House of Representatives dating to February 2022, according to an errata sheet reviewed by Just the News that was kept from the American public.
The 15-page-long errata sheet, uncovered recently by Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., includes significant changes to Hutchinson's account of key events in the Capitol riot drama, including what Secret Service vehicle transported Donald Trump to the Jan. 6, 2021 rally, whether guns were at the Washington D.C. rally that preceded the riot, and what she knew about a meeting where "Hang Mike Pence" chants were allegedly made.
The errata sheet contained a digital signature from Hutchinson approving the changes.
Legal experts said errata sheets for congressional witnesses are common but usually are limited to technical or typographical errors. The experts who reviewed Hutchinson's errata sheet dated Sept. 12, 2022 said it appears to make material changes to her stories.
“These aren’t 'corrections.' They constitute entirely new testimony that should be subjected to cross examination,” Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz told Just the News after reviewing the memo. Dershowitz represented Trump at his first impeachment trial where the 45th president was acquitted on charges related to Ukraine and did not have a role in the Jan. 6 impeachment.
Robert Charles, former staff director for the House Oversight national security subcommittee during its 1990s-era investigations into the Clinton White House and the Whitewater scandal, said Hutchison's errata were unlike any he had ever seen in his career as a lawyer and could become an issue in future criminal trials in Georgia and Washington D.C., where defendants like Donald Trump and others face Jan. 6-related charges.
"It throws into serious question the credibility of both the witness and the committee and the information she has related to the committee," Charles said. "And it looks like an attempt to manipulate the written record in a way that wasn't supported by the original testimony."
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the former chairman of the now defunct Jan. 6 House committee, did not respond to a request to his office seeking comment on why his committee did not make public the errata sheet corrections Hutchinson had made.
Hutchinson's most recent lawyer Joseph "Jody" Hunt, a former Justice Department official under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, did not return emails and messages seeking comment. Another lawyer who worked on Hutchinson's Jan. 6 team directed Just the News to her later June 2022 closed door testimony where she adjusted her account of events from four months earlier.
In her recently released book, Hutchinson acknowledged she had withheld some information from the House Jan. 6 committee before she changed lawyers. The committee in its final report of December 2022 has accused her former lawyer, Stefan Passantino, of coaching or pressuring her testimony to stay loyal to Trump, something he has adamantly denied.
“Before retaining my new lawyers, at times I had told less than the whole truth to a congressional committee charged with investigating a matter of the highest national importance, a matter that posed a threat to America’s future greatness,” Hutchinson wrote in her memoir, "Enough." “I had withheld information about events that I had witnessed or that had been recounted to me by witnesses."
The errata sheet and other evidence has been recovered recently by Loudermilk's House Administration Committee Oversight subcommittee, which is the successor panel to the Democrats' Jan. 6 committee. But some key evidence is missing.
The Jan. 6 committee destroyed or got rid of the videotapes of the transcribed interviews they conducted of Hutchison before her nationally televised testimony in June 2022, which makes the typewritten transcripts and her errata as the only official record, Loudermilk told Just the News on Thursday evening.
“All of the videotapes of all depositions are gone,” Loudermilk said. “Again, we found out about this early in the investigation when I received a call from someone who was looking for some information off one of the videotapes, and we started searching, and we had none. I wrote a letter to Bennie Thompson asking for them. And he confirmed that they did not preserve those types. He didn't feel that they had to."
"But according to House rules, you have to preserve any data and information and documents that are used in an official proceeding, which they did. They actually aired portions of these tapes on their televised hearings, which means they had to keep those. But yet he chose not to, I believe they exist somewhere. We've just got to find where all these videos are.”
Loudermilk said other witnesses’ errata sheets he has seen did not make the material changes that Hutchinson did.
“She had done several interviews up until that point in the summer of last year that it became public, The (purpose of the) errata sheet was to go back and change her testimony. In my opinion, it is very suspicious that the errata sheet was changing her public testimony or changing her transcribed interviews to match her public testimony that she gave later.”
The chairman said that it is possible his subcommittee will summon Hutchinson, Thompson, and former Rep. Liz Cheney, the J6 committee’s vice chairman, for interviews and testimony. “Everything is on the table,” he said. “We're willing to go out and bring anyone in that we need to get to the truth … We're to the point right now, where," he said.
Hutchinson made changes to her interviews that began in February 2022 in the 15-page errata sheet, ranging from the mundane to significant revisions that add new information or clarification.
In one example, Hutchinson issued a correction that updated the infamous story about the "Beast," the presidential limousine, which purportedly involved an incident in which President Trump was said to have lunged at the driver in anger after his request to be driven to the Capitol was refused. This is the story that Hutchinson told former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., at a public hearing in June 2022. It has been roundly disputed by Trump and other witnesses, including Secret Service personnel.
This part of the story was not in her original testimony from February 23, 2022, four months before her public, televised testimony in front of the January 6 committee. Then, about 3 months after her public testimony, Hutchinson submitted the errata sheets to correct the record and included the story she had omitted back in February. That same month, Hutchinson had also provided new details to the committee about this incident in her June 2022 closed-door interview.
“Did you ever find out what happened with that conversation in the Beast between the President and Mr. Engel?” Hutchinson was asked in her original testimony. The investigators were trying to understand an alleged conversation between Bobby Engel—head of President Trump’s Secret Service detail—and the president about his desire to travel to the Capitol after his speech on the Ellipse.
Hutchinson relayed what she knew of the conversation, indirectly because she testified that she traveled in a separate vehicle. “Just that Mr. Engel had relayed the message that him and Mr. Ornato had discussed previously and knowing there was no – there were no developments that would’ve changed the guidance he was given before the rally had begun, that we didn’t have the assets available, and that was just reconveyed to the President,” Hutchinson said in her original February testimony.
In the errata sheet corrections, Hutchinson changed her description of the vehicle as an SUV, instead of the famous limousine and described the purported incident.
“Mr. Engel told President Trump it was not safe to take him to the Capitol, President Trump then lunged forward to grab at the steering wheel, that Mr. Engle reached for President Trump’s hand, and that President Trump then lunged towards Mr. Engle,” changing her original story with the details she told the committee publicly.
You can read Hutchinson’s her initial testimony below:
This incident was widely reported in the media, producing headlines like “Trump ‘Lunged’ at Secret Service Agent Who Refused to Take Him to Capitol: Jan. 6 Hearing” from Rolling Stone and “Trump tried to grab steering wheel, lunged at head of security after he was told he couldn't go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, former Meadows aide says,” from CBS News.
Just the News identified several other instances where Hutchinson appeared to change her story in the errata about her accounts of major events on and around January 6.
When asked by the committee investigators if she remembered reports of firearms in the crowd before Trump took the stage at the "Stop the Steal" rally, Hutchinson originally answered that she did not recall those reports.
“What about firearms, do you remember any reports of firearms coming in?” an investigator asked. “Not that I can recall specifically that morning or at the rally site,” Hutchinson responded in her original interview.
The errata sheet shows Hutchinson later reversed course. “Ms. Hutchinson recalls that there were reports of firearms at the rally site,” the errata correction reads.
In another instance, Hutchinson was asked about Trump and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and an encounter in the White House dining room on the afternoon of Jan. 6. “Do you know what Mr. Meadows -- or what the President was doing in the dining room during those periods?” the investigators asked.
“I'm trying to be specific and draw the line between like, obviously, what’s been reported after the fact. That day, you know, I knew that there were people in and out of the Oval dining with him that afternoon. The TV was on. I knew he was watching the news, which wasn’t anything out of the ordinary at all. But substantively I’m not sure that I could speak to his specific activities or conversations other than what was reported on after the fact.”
She would later add a shocking detail that was absent from her original testimony. “Ms. Hutchinson was aware of ‘Hang Mike Pence’ chants that occurred in the dining room,” the errata addition to this response reads.
In May 2022, Politico reported that a number of anonymous sources had confirmed that witnesses told the January 6 committee that then-President Trump expressed support for the chants of “Hang Mike Pence” that could be heard on that day. A Trump spokesperson vehemently denied this.
Hutchinson also changed her story about a phone call she claimed she received directly from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on that day. In her original testimony, Hutchinson was asked about a message from a congressman they believed she delivered to Meadows, who was in the dining room with the president.
“And I had relayed the message from Mr. Jor- -- Jim Jordan, Congressman Jim Jordan at the time. He had called my work cell phone, and brief conversation, Hey, where’s Mark? I told him he's down with the President. He said, Can you please have him call me?” Hutchinson said in her original response.
Months later in the errata sheets filed with the committee, she changed her story. “Mr. Jordan did not call Ms. Hutchinson’s work phone. Mr. Jordan called one of Mr. Meadows’ cell phones, which Mr. Meadows had left with Ms. Hutchinson during this time period,” the errata sheet reads.
“When Ms. Hutchinson received the phone call from Mr. Jordan, she walked to the President’s dining room. When she told Mr. Meadows that Mr. Jordan was on the phone, Mr. Meadows stepped out of the President’s dining room to take the phone call,” the correction continued.
Professor Glenn Reynolds, the Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee and a constitutional law scholar, agreed with Dershowitz and Charles that Hutchinson's errata are unusual. "That seems quite irregular to me," Reynolds told Just the News Thursday. "[And] I think both the committee and Ms. Hutchinson need to do some explaining here," he continued.
The question remains, why did parts of Hutchinson’s testimony change between February and September 2022? The shift in her testimony appears to begin in a subsequent transcribed interview in June of 2022 with the January 6 committee, made public in December of that year alongside the final report of the January 6 committee detailing the findings of its investigation into the riot that day. One of Hutchinson's lawyers from the January 6 investigation directed Just the News to this testimony, where Hutchinson appears to change her accounting of the key events described above.
You can read that June 2022 testimony below:
Hutchinson's explanation for the sweeping changes centered on Trump-orbit lawyer Stefan Passantino—who represented Hutchinson during her early interviews with the committee. She alleged that he pressured her to stay “loyal” to Trump in her responses.
Hutchinson made this claim in a September 2022 interview with the committee, after Passantino ceased representing her in the matter and she had retained a new legal team. Hutchinson told the committee that Passantino informed her that “You're not lying if you say you don’t recall” as she prepared for her testimony to the committee.
“Everything’s going to be OK. We’re taking care of you,” Hutchinson described Passantino’s remarks the morning of her first testimony. “Just downplay your position. … It’s not fair that Mark [Meadows] put you in this position. We just want to focus on protecting the president. We all know you’re loyal. Let’s just get you in and out, and this day will be easy, I promise.”
You can read Hutchinson’s testimony below:
Passantino disputed Hutchinson’s characterization of his legal representation and filed a lawsuit against the House of Representatives for damages to his business and to his reputation.
“The Committee told an outrageous tale to media sources, such as CNN and possibly others, about Mr. Passantino’s non-existent efforts to obstruct their investigation by impacting the testimony of their 'star' witness, Cassidy Hutchinson,” the suit reads.
“The Committee, however, undertook no effort to contact Mr. Passantino, interview him, or otherwise seek to verify the truth of the allegations lodged against him before it released this information in support of a political narrative about President Donald J. Trump and the lawyers perceived to be working for him,” it continued.
The press secretary for Thompson, D.-Miss., did not respond to a request for comment from Just the News at the time of publication seeking clarification from January 6 Committee on Hutchinson’s errata sheet. Thompson served as chairman of that committee while it was active during the previous Congress and led the investigation into the Trump administration’s actions that day.