Bobby Engel's Testimony Consistent With Cassidy Hutchinson—Legal Expert

A legal expert has suggested that key details from Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony claiming that Donald Trump lunged at a Secret Service agent's throat and grabbed the steering wheel of the presidential limousine in an attempt to join his supporters rioting at the Capitol can be corroborated by Secret Service agent Bobby Engel's previous testimony.

Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, made a series of bombshell claims in Tuesday's hearings, including those surrounding Trump's actions soon after he delivered his speech at the Ellipse.

The Secret Service is reportedly willing to testify that the then-President did not reach for the steering wheel in the car or lunge at Engel, the head of Trump's Secret Service detail at the time.

Engel has already testified to the January 6 committee behind closed doors. Details of his deposition were previously reported by Politico, although it did not include a description of the alleged altercation.

Cassidy Hutchinson January 6
In this combination image, Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. on June 28, 2022 and Donald Trump (Inset) gets out of the presidential limousine, surrounded by Secret Service agents as he prepares to board Air Force One, 2020. Getty

Engel is said to have told the committee that he and Trump spoke about the former president's desire to go to the Capitol on January 6 but "took different views on the topic" and went back to the White House instead, according to Politico.

Ryan Goodman, professor of law at New York University School of Law, said it is "legally significant" that some of Engel's testimony is "consistent" with Hutchinson.

"Trump wanted to join at Capitol even as violence unfolded, Trump raised privately with Engel, Engel disagreed, drove back to WH," Goodman tweeted while highlighting key passages from the Politico report.

Hutchinson told the panel that Trump was irate in the back of the vehicle and demanded to be taken to the Capitol so he could join his supporters.

When he was told that they would be going back to the White House, Hutchinson revealed the former president "said something to the effect of 'I'm the f'ing president, take me up to the Capitol now.'"

Hutchinson said Trump reached up towards the front of the vehicle, known as "The Beast," to grab at the steering wheel.

Engel is said to have grabbed the former president by the arm and told him "sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel."

When Engel informed Trump that they were going back to the White House and not the Capitol where the insurrection was unfolding, Trump is alleged to have "used his free hand to lunge towards" Engel and reach for his clavicle area, according to Hutchinson, citing a conversation she had with Tony Ornato, a senior Secret Service official who was Trump's deputy chief of staff for operations.

The New York Times and Associated Press say both Engel and the driver are prepared to testify that Trump never lunged for the steering wheel. Ornato is also reported to be prepared to deny the claims from Hutchinson under oath.

Journalist Patrick W. Watson suggested there are three possibilities why Engel did not discuss the alleged incident during his earlier testimony.

"1. He denied the limo incident. 2. He confirmed the limo incident. 3. The limo incident wasn't discussed," Watson tweeted.

"We can rule out #1, since the committee wouldn't leave Hutchinson open to being disproven. So it must be 2 or 3."

Trump himself denied the claims in a series of posts on Truth Social as Hutchinson was delivering her testimony,

"Her Fake story that I tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House Limousine in order to steer it to the Capitol Building is 'sick' and fraudulent, very much like the Unselect Committee itself—Wouldn't even have been possible to do such a ridiculous thing," Trump wrote.

Responding to the claims the Secret Service agents are willing to dispute Hutchinson's testimony, her lawyer Jody Hunt tweeted: "Hutchinson testified, under oath, and recounted what she was told. Those with knowledge of the episode also should testify under oath."

Mick Mulvaney, Trump's former Acting Chief of Staff, said he believes Hutchinson's testimony.

"My guess is that before this is over, we will be hearing testimony from Ornato, Engel, and Meadows," Mulvaney tweeted.

"This is explosive stuff. If Cassidy is making this up, they will need to say that. If she isn't they will have to corroborate. I know her. I don't think she is lying."

In a statement, the Secret Service said it 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."