Indiana Republican Congressman Jim Banks is demanding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) disclose White House surveillance records to lawmakers in their investigation of blockbuster claims by the Jan. 6 Committee’s latest star witness.
On Tuesday, a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Cassidy Hutchinson, offered sensational revelations in public testimony before the nine-member House panel depicting a president in rage as supporters ransacked congressional chambers. At one point, Hutchinson said President Donald Trump assaulted a Secret Service agent and attempted to hijack the presidential limousine with plans to drive himself to the Capitol.
“The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the f’ing president, take me up to the Capitol now,’” Hutchinson told lawmakers, citing a conversation with then-White House Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornato in the absence of a firsthand account.
Hours later, Hutchinson’s sources disputed the graphic events in question and told news outlets they were prepared to offer on-the-record denials under oath. Days after a centerpiece of Hutchinson’s uncorroborated testimony fell apart, more claims are beginning to fail the credibility test under closer scrutiny.
While Trump was intent on going to the Capitol, Hutchinson said, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone allegedly pressured aides to make sure the president remained far from the complex.
“We understand, Ms. Hutchinson, that you also spoke to Mr. Cipollone on the morning of the 6th, as you were about to go to the rally on the Ellipse,” said Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who led Tuesday’s questioning. “Mr. Cipollone said something to you like, ‘make sure the movement to the Capitol does not happen.’ Is that correct?”
That’s correct. I saw Mr. Cipollone right before I walked out onto West Exec that morning, and Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of ‘please make sure we don’t go up to the Capitol, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We’re going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.’
According to multiple sources with direct knowledge of White House staffing on Jan. 6, however, Cipollone was not at the White House that morning.
“Every Trump White House senior staff member knows that Cipollone was not at the White House that morning so that conversation could not have taken place,” one source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Federalist. “In Cipollone’s absence, Pat Philbin was filling in for Pat [Cipollone] that morning.”
“Besides the fact that Pat [Cipollone] wasn’t there,” they added, “He simply doesn’t speak like that.”
To independently investigate Hutchinson’s claims, Banks sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas requesting to “review White House gate logs, surveillance video, and all other records that could indicate which of these senior staff were present at the White House during the times referenced in Ms. Hutchinson’s attached testimony.”
The Indiana congressman spearheading House Republicans’ own probe into the Capitol riot after Speaker Nancy Pelosi stripped his appointment as ranking member of the Jan. 6 Committee gave Mayorkas until July 8 to comply.
Banks also sent a letter to Cipollone over the White House counsel’s whereabouts.
“Approximately, at what time did you enter the White House campus on January 6, 2021?” Banks asked. “Please provide my office with written responses to the following questions by July 9, 2022.”
Cipollone did not respond to The Federalist’s inquiries.
Tristan Justice is the western correspondent for The Federalist. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and The Daily Signal. His work has also been featured in Real Clear Politics and Fox News. Tristan graduated from George Washington University where he majored in political science and minored in journalism. Follow him on Twitter at @JusticeTristan or contact him at Tristan@thefederalist.com.