Abcarian: Is the lunge true? Let Trump sycophants tell us under oath what really happened

Secret Service agents would take a bullet for the President. Would they lie for him too?

On Tuesday, Cassidy Hutchinson, the committee’s Jan. 6 key witness, said she was told about an altercation in then-President Trump’s SUV after the rally before the violent riot in the Capitol.

By now you’re probably familiar with the details: According to Hutchinson’s testimony, Anthony Ornato, Trump’s deputy chief of staff and former head of his Secret Service detail, told her that Trump tried to grab the steering wheel and then lunged for Agent Bobby Engel’s neck , who rode the shotgun.

Spotted portrait illustration of Robin Abcarian

opinion columnist

Robin Abcarian

Trump denied it and the Republican mud machine began to churn:

Hutchinson was a liar, she is Amber Heard 2.0. (You never miss an opportunity to get sexist.)

Everything she said was “hearsay” that would never be admitted in court.

Hutchinson was so unobtrusive that there is no way she could have heard and seen what she claimed to have heard and seen.

The attack on agents could not have happened because The President sits too far back in his long black sedan.

All of this is ridiculous bullshit from Republicans so enchanted by Trump that they remain willfully oblivious to his attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election, first through procedural and legal means and ultimately through violence.

Hutchinson has no reason to lie. She certainly knows what happens to people who attack the monomaniac ex-president. She must be aware of the suffering inflicted on poll worker Shaye Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman in Georgia after Trump heaped false – and racial – fraud allegations on them.

In any event, the January 6 Committee is not a court, so arguing whether Hutchinson’s testimony is legally admissible is irrelevant.

The allegation of their low status in the administration – promulgated by the vile Stephen Miller – is a red herring. As senior adviser to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, Hutchinson sat outside her boss’s office, just steps from the Oval Office, in the beating heart of the White House. She attended virtually every meeting with her boss, White House officials say, and took notes. She was backstage at Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally, close enough to hear the president rant about the metal detectors keeping his armed supporters away.

As for Trump’s alleged physical assault on the agents who refused to take him to the Capitol to play Braveheart with the rioters, that’s just a juicy detail that doesn’t affect the facts: no one, including Trump, has denied that he wanted to storm the Capitol and was furious when he was defeated. “The Secret Service said I couldn’t go,” Trump told the Washington Post in April. “I would have gone there in a minute.”

Also, let’s recall that Trump was riding in the back seat of a Suburban, not the presidential sedan dubbed “The Beast,” as the committee proved at the time it showed video of his departure from the Ellipse.

Of course, facts didn’t stop a Trump toadlick like Stephen Bannon from chuckling on his podcast on Hutchinson’s story. “I drove in the beast,” Bannon said, scoffing at the idea that Trump was close enough to the front seat to have reached the steering wheel or anyone’s neck.

“It wasn’t the beast” said Carol Leonnig, the Washington Post reporter who wrote Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service. The president was driving in a Suburban SUV on Jan. 6, she told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. The same car “that the president used for his pleasure ride around Walter Reed,” Leonnig noted while he was critically ill with COVID-19 in October 2020.

Unknown sources have told reporters that Ornato and Engel are willing to testify under oath that Trump never attempted to grab a steering wheel or neck. If that’s the case, let her. And then we can decide who is more credible: a young woman with no ax to sharpen or two Trump loyalists.

As Leonnig Maddow said after Hutchinson’s testimony last week, Ornato and Engel were “very, very close” to Trump. “Some people accused her of being the president’s enabler and yes-man at times, particularly Tony Ornato,” Leonnig said, adding that this frustrated other agents who were less focused on pleasing Trump and more focused on to get their work done.

Is it really so shocking that some Secret Service agents under Trump’s ban could lie to protect him?

“There was a very large contingent of Donald Trump’s details personally cheering Biden’s failure,” Leonnig said, “and some of them even went to their personal media accounts to encourage the uprising.”

Trump lackeys can throw all the mud — or ketchup — they want at Hutchinson.

None of this will stick.

@AbcarianLAT Abcarian: Is the lunge true? Let Trump sycophants tell us under oath what really happened

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