Jan. 6 Committee Vice Chairwoman Liz Cheney was photographed hugging Cassidy Hutchinson — a former aide to ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows — after Hutchinson testified before the committee during a special hearing on Tuesday.
The Wyoming Republican congresswoman’s embrace of Hutchinson raised eyebrows, with people questioning the message the gesture sent about fairness in the committee’s proceedings.
“If questioner (Cheney) wants to appear fair to jury (American people), it probably is not a good idea to get caught on camera hugging the witness,” Newsmax journalist Greta Van Susteren tweeted on Wednesday.
If questioner (Cheney) wants to appear fair to jury (American people), it probably is not a good idea to get caught on camera hugging the witness…see below from @Politico;already people have very strong feelings – both ways – about this hearing and pics like this don’t help; pic.twitter.com/lbdkMtzT4y
— Greta Van Susteren (@greta) June 29, 2022
Van Susteren added, “Already people have very strong feelings – both ways – about this hearing and pics like this don’t help.”
Brought by the committee as a special witness, Hutchinson delivered a series of major allegations against former President Donald Trump and his response to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol incursion in her Tuesday testimony.
During the testimony, Hutchinson alleged that Trump knew that some of his supporters at the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally had weapons with them. The rally took place before the Capitol incursion.
“I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of: ‘I don’t effing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags (metal detectors) away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here,'” Hutchinson told the committee, according to PBS.
Trump refuted Hutchinson’s claims in a post on Truth Social on Tuesday, saying: “I didn’t want or request that we make room for people with guns to watch my speech.”
Hutchinson also claimed that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornato had told her that Trump had physically assaulted Secret Service special agent Robert Engel.
“The president said something to the effect of: ‘I’m the effing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’ to which Bobby responded, ‘Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing.’ The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel,” Hutchinson said, according to The Washington Post.
“Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said: ‘Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going the Capitol.’ Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson testified, saying Ornato motioned to his clavicles to describe a form of choking motion.
After Hutchinson’s testimony, the Post’s Carol Leonnig reported Wednesday that Secret Service agents “dispute that Donald Trump assaulted any agent or tried to grab the steering wheel on Jan 6. They agree Trump was furious about not being able to go to [the] Capitol with his supporters. They offer to testify under oath.”
“The United States Secret Service has been cooperating with the Select Committee since its inception in spring 2021, and will continue to do so, including by responding on the record to the Committee regarding the new allegations surfaced in today’s testimony,” the Secret Service said in a statement following the testimony, as previously reported by The Western Journal.
Other allegations Hutchinson made during the session included claiming to have heard Meadows say that Trump knew that some among the crowd at the Capitol were calling for hanging former Vice President Mike Pence, and Trump thought Pence deserved to be hanged.
“Mark had responded something to the effect of, ‘You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong,'” Hutchinson said, according to PBS.
“I understood ‘they’re’ to be the rioters in the Capitol that were chanting for the vice president to be hung,” Hutchinson told the committee, per CNBC.
Trump later challenged Hutchinson’s claims. “I NEVER SAID,’ MIKE PENCE DESERVES IT (to be hung),” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “Another made up statement by a third rate social climber!”
Cheney is no stranger to hugging witnesses after they testify before the committee. In a hearing earlier this month, Cheney hugged Republican Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers after he testified before the committee on Trump’s alleged attempts to force state officials to overturn the results of the election, The Hill reported.
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