It was witness that, for a brief moment, stopped time.
So, the president got into the vehicle once he had finished. [Secret Service agent] Bobby [Engel]He thought they were going to the Capitol. And when Bobby had relayed to him we’re not, we don’t have the assets to do it, it’s not secure, we’re going back to the West Wing, the president had a very strong, a very angry response to that.
[White House chief of operations] Tony [Ornato] described him as being irate. The president said something to the effect of I’m the f’ing 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 for the steering wheel and grabbed it from the front of the car. Mr. Engel reached up to grab the steering wheel with his arm and said, Sir, you need to get your hands off the steering wheels.
We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol. Mr. Trump then reached out with his free hand towards Bobby Engel. And Mr. — when Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.
Cassidy Hutchinson was a former White House Aide.
For awhile now, that hadn’t seemed possible; “this is not normal” had become all too normal, and a callus had formed over the sensibilities of most. There’s only so much folks can take before the circuits start to melt, and that was certainly the plan with this White House, as was made plain by former White House adviser Steve Bannon’s operating dictum: “Flood the zone with shit.”
Hutchinson sliced through it like a hot knife through, well… shit. She asserted that Trump tried to commandeer the limo and then choke a Secret Service agent because he wanted to physically join the armed insurrectionists sacking the Capitol — and just like that, at long last, a line was finally crossed. While other aspects of her testimony were more legally damaging — Trump tried to wave armed protesters through security when he knew they were armed and Capitol-bound stands out above all — this vignette was the unavoidable boulder in the road.
It could not be allowed. Trump immediately launched into a terrifyingly frightening rendition of his greatest hits, and he did not hold back. This woman who is a woman does not know anything and was never anywhere. I have never met her witch hunting Democrats MAGA give me cash! The heavy lifting to debunk the humongous problem presented by Hutchinson’s testimony has fallen to the two men who were in the car with Trump when he allegedly flipped out: Tony Ornato and Bobby Engel.
Within hours of Hutchinson’s testimony, it was announced that Ornato and Engel disputed her version of events and were willing to testify on this point. This was the equivalent of stopping the hole in the Titanic’s hull with a roll of paper towels, but the flooding belowdecks did briefly subside. It casts a shadow on her entire testimony, even if her testimony was questionable in this matter.
Here’s where it gets interesting. Tony Ornato was once Trump’s senior Secret Service agent, and has been a huge Trump fan from the beginning. Trump is so fond of Ornato that he elevated Ornato from a position in the White House: White House chief operating officer. Ornato’s main portfolio included stage-managing all of Trump’s rallies, campaign events, photo-ops and so forth.
Engel is Trump’s current senior Secret Service agent, and works hand in glove with Ornato to arrange and manage Trump’s public appearances. Given the enormous attention Trump pays to how much attention he’s getting, it is not too far a cry to say Ornato and Engel held two of the most important gigs in the White House, with Ornato enjoying the superior spot between the two… and according to multiple reports, both men have become practiced at altering reality to serve Trump’s needs and desires.
“Tony Ornato has said a lot of things didn’t happen,” Washington Post reporter Carol Leonnig told MSNBC. “He has tried to say to the press and to me indirectly that the clearing of Lafayette Square was not done for President Trump’s photo op. Well, that’s not true. He was at the center of that…. The Secret Service often tries to deny things that are unflattering and then when the rubber hits the road, we learn there is a little bit more to it.”
Indeed. It is worth noting, however, that Engel and Ornato were not under oath when Engel denied the incident. Hutchinson was, however. She was sworn before a Capitol Hill committee when she related her version.
Until those men offer sworn testimony refuting hers, Hutchinson’s words will likely carry the day. Engel and Ornato seem to be so deeply in Trump’s pocket that they could be compared to golf balls. Hutchinson, on the other hand, has nothing to lose by being crosswise with Trump Labeled a liar
My money is on Cassidy Hutchinson until someone damned reliable tells my otherwise.