Former president Donald Trump on Wednesday boasted to a group of supporters that an ex-aide’s congressional testimony regarding his alleged assault of a Secret Service agent made him appear “physically tough”.
Mr Trump was delivering a meandering speech to an America First Policy Institute event in Florida when he segued from a series of false claims about how other former presidents handled records from their administrations to a stream-of-consciousness observation about how his Florida home is guarded by “dozens of very strong and powerful US Secret Service agents”.
Continuing, the twice-impeached ex-president noted that “this one very sick individual” had alleged that he’d “grabbed one around the neck” to get the agents to take him to the Capitol during the riot he stoked to prevent certification of his 2020 election loss.
The derogatory reference was meant to denigrate ex-Mark Meadows assistant Cassidy Hutchinson, the former Trump White House staffer who in June told the House January 6 Select Committee that Mr Trump reacted violently when agents told him he would not be able to join the riotous mob he’d summoned to Washington as they stormed the US Capitol.
“You know, I almost didn’t want to dispute it because a lot of people said I never knew you were that physically tough,” he added.
The ex-White House aide said Mr Engel and then-White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato, himself a Secret Service agent, informed her that Mr Trump had shouted “I’m the f***ing President of the United States” and demanded to be driven to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, where an armed mob of his supporters was assaulting police officers and breaching security defences in hopes of preventing Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.
Ms Hutchinson also said she was told the then-president grabbed the armoured car’s steering wheel and lunged at the throat of Mr Engel when he was told to remove his hand from the wheel.
Since her testimony, multiple sources close to Mr Trump, including those who say they’ve spoken to Mr Ornato, have claimed he would be willing to testify that no such altercation took place. But no such testimony has been given, and multiple news outlets have confirmed that other sources have confirmed Ms Hutchinson’s account of what happened that day.