The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol reportedly will hear from a former aide to Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff, at Tuesday’s surprise hearing.
Cassidy Hutchinson, who also served as a special assistant to Trump, has already testified behind closed doors several times, revealing that House Republicans supporting Trump’s quest to overturn the 2020 election were seeking presidential pardons. Hutchinson has also testified that Trump himself signaled to Meadows he supported calls from Capitol rioters to “hang Mike Pence” during the insurrection, according to CNN.
The news of Hutchinson’s appearance, first reported by Punchbowl News, comes as the committee announced a surprise hearing on Tuesday to “present recently obtained evidence” and “receive witness testimony.” The panel had previously said it would not hold any additional hearings before the House July 4 recess.
It’s unclear whether Hutchinson will joined by other live witnesses on Tuesday. Punchbowl News reported there were concerns over Hutchinson’s safety. New security precautions will be in place during Tuesday’s hearing, according to CNN.
In the lead-up to the committee’s first public hearings in early June, Hutchinson had been touted as an important witness.
“Cassidy Hutchinson might turn out to be the next John Dean,” Norm Eisen, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a counsel to House Democrats during Trump’s first impeachment trial, told The Washington Post.
Dean, President Richard Nixon’s White House counsel, became a star witness in the House Watergate hearings after testifying publicly of Nixon’s involvement in the scandal.
The committee has already aired video of Hutchinson’s previous testimony, when she was asked if any members of Congress had sought presidential pardons. Hutchinson said Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Scott Perry (R-Pa.) all asked for them.
“Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early December,” Hutchinson said. “I’m not sure why.”
The former aide also recounted that Meadows, Trump and Rudy Giuliani were among those involved in discussions about a scheme promoting fake presidential electors around Thanksgiving in 2020, according to video aired during the June 21 hearing. Meadows and Giuliani are among Trump loyalists who have defied Jan. 6 committee subpoenas.
During Thursday’s hearing, which focused on Trump’s pressure on the Department of Justice to aid his election lies, the panel also aired testimony from Hutchinson revealing that Rep. Perry pushed for Trump to install Jeff Clark as attorney general.
“He wanted Mr. Clark, Mr. Jeff Clark, to take over the Department of Justice,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said she saw Meadows burn papers after a meeting with Perry in the weeks following the 2020 election, according to Politico. She also told investigators Meadows had been warned the “Stop the Steal” rally slated for Jan. 6 in Washington could turn violent, according to a court filing in April.
Following the 2020 election, Hutchinson called Jordan Fuchs, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state, to ask if there is anything the White House could do to express gratitude for the audit into absentee ballot signatures, according to a Reuters report from March 2021.
A Fulton County investigation in Georgia looking into whether Trump broke the law by pressuring state officials to overturn the 2020 election results.
Earlier this month, Politico reported Hutchinson replaced her Trump-ally lawyer with Jody Hunt, who served as chief of staff to Trump’s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions. The move reportedly suggested her increased willingness to cooperate with the investigation.
Punchbowl News reported Hutchinson spoke to the Jan. 6 committee within the last 10 days.
In the days before the panel’s first public hearing, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the panel, was asked about Hutchinson’s role. While he didn’t reveal details of what Hutchinson had privately shared with the panel, he told Washington Post Live that several young people who knew what was going on had come forward.
“She is certainly someone who rendered truthful testimony to our committee and you will see other junior staffers who’ve come forward and cooperated enthusiastically with this investigation into this attack on our country,” Raskin said.
Meanwhile, federal agents last week seized the cellphone of John Eastman, a lawyer advising Trump on schemes to overturn the election result, according to a court filing, suggesting a criminal probe is gaining steam alongside the House panel’s investigation.