Democrats’ Jan. 6 panel withheld crucial evidence, including denial from Trump driver: new report

For the first time, the report released information from the Secret Service driver who took Trump to his Jan. 6, 2021, speech on the Ellipse and back to the White House. The driver directly contradicted claim Trump tried to grab wheel of the presidential SUV and take it to the Capitol.

The House Democrat-led Jan. 6 committee withheld crucial evidence from the public, including witness interviews that conflicted with the testimony of star witness Cassidy Hutchinson and her claim then-President Donald Trump tried to commandeer his presidential SUV and take it to the U.S. Capitol that day, House Republicans declared in an explosive new report Monday.

The House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight, chaired by Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., released its first findings from its year-long probe into Capitol security failures on Jan. 6, 2021, and the initial Democrat effort to investigate the incident.

The report provided evidence contradicting several claims that Democrats made in their final report in December 2022. 

For the first time, Loudermilk’s report released information from the Secret Service driver who took Trump to his Jan. 6, 2021 speech on the Ellipse and back to the White House. The driver, who wasn’t identified by name, directly contradicted Hutchinson’s story about Trump trying to grab the wheel of the presidential SUV and take it to the Capitol, the report said.

“The driver testified that he specifically refuted the version of events as recounted by Hutchinson,” the report states. "The driver of the SUV testified that he 'did not see him reach [redacted]. [President Trump] never grabbed the steering wheel. I didn’t see him, you know, lunge to try to get into the front seat at all.'”

Congressional officials confirmed to Just the News on Monday that ex-Rep. Liz Cheney, the vice chairwoman of the Jan. 6 committee run by Democrats, personally participated in the interview of the Secret Sefvice driver and was aware of his statements contradicting Hutchinson. 

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the Democrat J6 committee, acknowledged Monday night that his committee considered the Secret Service driver's testimony and that its emergence now from Repuni;cans was a distraction.

"Loudermilk is merely trying to deflect from Donald Trump's responsibility for the violence of January 6 and his own refusal to answer the select committee's questions," Thompson said,

The report also concludes that Trump did, in fact, instruct his staff ahead of Jan. 6 to offer 10,000 National Guard troops to the Capitol for extra security and that the tragedy could have been prevented had Capitol Police, Washington D.C. officials and congressional leaders better heeded intelligence suggesting there would be violence that day.

“The events of January 6, 2021, were preventable,” the report stated. “The politicization of Capitol security directly contributed to the many structural and procedural failures witnessed that day.”

You can read the full report here.

The report confirms two years worth of reporting by Just the News on the Jan. 6 failures, including that Hutchinson’s made significant changes to her testimony that were not revealed by the Jan. 6 committee and that White House officials had received instructions from Trump to offer the 10,000 National Guard troops to assist the Capitol and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser with security.

In both conclusions, the report cites previously unreleased testimony from former White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Tony Ornato, who oversaw security matters for Trump

The report stated, confirming earlier Just the News reporting, that on Jan. 3, 2021, “acting Secretary Miller and Chairman (Mark) Milley met with President Trump regarding the D.C. Government’s RFA.299. In this meeting, President Trump approved acting Secretary Miller activating the D.C. National Guard to support law enforcement."

The report said Ornato confirmed that the next day White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows talked with Washington D.C. officials and discussed a troop deployment of up to 10,000 National Guard members.

“In Ornato’s January 28, 2022, previously unreleased transcribed interview with the Select Committee, he stated, ‘I do recall a conversation, I believe, it was with Mr. Meadows and the mayor, Mayor Bowser,’” the report stated. “’ ... I had walked in for something, and I was there, and he was on the phone with her and wanted to make sure she had everything that she needed ... and I remember the number 10,000 coming up of, you know, the President wants to make sure that you have enough.”

The report also noted that multiple Secret Service employees, in addition to the driver and Ornato directly disputed Hutchinson’s now infamous account that Trump was so enraged after his speech on the Ellipse that he tried to commandeer his presidential SUV – known as the Beast – and force his detail to take him to the Capitol to join the rioters.

The Democrat committee credited Hutchinson’s version of events, which she said she got from Ornato.

“In Ornato’s November 29, 2022, transcribed interview, he directly refuted Hutchinson’s testimony that she allegedly heard the story about what happened in the Beast," the report said. "Ornato testified that the first time he had ever heard the story Hutchinson claims Ornato told her on January 6, was during Hutchinson’s public testimony."

Last year, Just the News reported Hutchinson had made significant changes to her original testimony before the Jan. 6 committee and filed an errata sheet to "correct" substantial portions of her previous interviews. The infamous story about the Beast was not present in her original testimony, according to the errata sheet obtained by Just the News. 

In her memoir, Enough, Hutchinson claimed she originally withheld information from the committee at the direction of her first lawyer, Stefan Passantino. He disputed Hutchinson’s characterization of his legal work and filed a lawsuit against the House of Representatives for damages to his business and to his reputation.

The report said White House officials also told the original Jan. 6 committee that there never was a plan to go to the Capitol that day and that Trump, while angry in the SUV, did not try to force it to go to the scene of the riot.

“None of the White House employees corroborated Hutchinson’s sensational story about President Trump lunging for the steering wheel of the Beast,” the report said.

“However, some witnesses did describe the President’s mood after the speech at the Ellipse. It is highly improbable that the other White House Employees would have heard about the President’s mood in the SUV following his speech at the Ellipse, but not heard the sensational story."

The report chided the Democrat committee for crediting Hutchinson’s account in the face of conflicting evidence.

“The Select Committee said that it regarded both Hutchinson and the corroborating testimony by the White House employee with national security responsibilities as earnest and has no reason to conclude that either had a reason to invent their accounts,'” the report concluded. “However, as shown in the full transcribed interview of the White House employee with national security responsibilities, their testimony did not corroborate Hutchinson’s.

“It was an entirely different version of events. The witnesses told a different story, one about the President’s mood and none of them ever testified they heard anything even similar to the story recounted by Hutchinson."

Witness interviews contained in the report also dispute Hutchinson’s story about the “hang Mike Pence” chants. 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.

In her book, Hutchinson claimed that President Trump had participated in the chants as he was watching his supporters on television. “I hear him say 'hang' repeatedly,” Hutchinson reportedly wrote.

The report shows that one anonymous White House employee disputed Hutchinson’s story in testimony to the Jan. 6 committee, though the transcript was never released in full.

“White House Employee One confirmed he heard the chants of hang Mike Pence from his position close to the President on January 6. However, he testified that neither the President nor any other staff made comments about those chants. White House Employee One specifically refuted Hutchinson’s claim that the President said anything at all about the chants,” the report reads.

The subcommittee claims in its report the Jan. 6 select committee was highly selective in the information that it chose to release publicly at the conclusion of its investigation, choosing to release only information that supported the committee’s desired narrative, like Cassidy Hutchinson's updated testimony. 

“Chairperson Thompson admitted that the Select Committee did not preserve hundreds of video recordings made by the Select Committee during transcribed interviews and depositions. Chairperson Thompson also admitted that as Chair of the Select Committee, he failed to archive certain transcripts of transcribed interviews conducted by the Select Committee, in violation of House Rules,” the report reads.

“Additionally, the Select Committee selectively interviewed certain witnesses and publicly released their testimony before interviewing other witnesses who may have provided contradictory testimony,” it adds.

Further, the subcommittee report concludes the select committee failed to turn over significant tranches of data--and even deleted certain files--before the new Congress was sworn in.

“[The] Select Committee failed to archive and subsequently provide the Subcommittee any of its video recordings of witness interviews, as many as 900 interview summaries or transcripts, more than one terabyte of digital data, and over 100 deleted or encrypted documents,” the report concluded.

Deleted or missing files included identities of witnesses interviewed, recorded witness depositions which the select committee used in video productions, and transcripts from several interviews with White House or U.S. Secret Service staff, some of which could have provided key perspectives on events central to the committee's investigation.