Tuesday's explosive testimony raises the big question of whether Donald Trump could now be charged with a crime, as Correspondent Robert Moore reports
Americans are today absorbing one of the most extraordinary insider accounts ever provided about the wild behaviour and erratic mood of a US president. If a Hollywood scriptwriter pitched a screenplay that involved an American leader fighting with his secret service agents for control of the presidential limousine it would surely have been discarded as too implausible for the big screen. But according to this new account, on January 6, 2021, behind the bullet-proof glass and armoured panels of the vehicle known as the Beast, that’s exactly what happened. President Donald Trump was reaching desperately for the steering wheel, grabbing the throat of an agent, seemingly furious he was being forced to break his promise to join his supporters as they marched on Congress.
Trump was demanding to be taken to the Capitol to join the mob that was poised to storm the building. The presidential bodyguards - especially his top agent Bobby Engel, head of his protective detail - were adamant that Trump had to be taken back to the safety of the White House. That's when the fight inside the Beast broke out. This stunning insight into the bizarre and frankly unhinged behaviour of Trump has further shaken Washington. We thought we knew everything about January 6th. But this account by a key White House aide has provided new evidence that will force even Trump's most ardent admirers to question the former president’s fitness for office.
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Furthermore, Cassidy Hutchinson - the adviser giving evidence, a top aide to Trump's former Chief of Staff - spoke about other highly embarrassing moments. She said Trump urged the secret service not to use metal detectors as a security measure for his January 6th rally outside the White House. Trump told his advisers that any weapons wouldn’t be used against him, so it didn’t matter. Ms Hutchinson also recounted a story of Trump throwing his lunch across the room in the White House when he heard his attorney general describe the 2020 election as free and fair.
It is vivid details like those - ketchup running down the White House wallpaper, a fight with his own secret service agent, fury over the use of metal detectors - that will long be remembered and provide devastating evidence for his opponents Trump is denying Ms Hutchinson's account, calling her story of the struggle in the presidential limo "sick and fraudulent." The former president added, "Her story of me throwing food is also false."
On Wednesday morning, the story of what happened that day has become even more contested, with new reports stating the secret service is also denying the aide’s account. As many observers are pointing out, it does seem implausible that a president riding in the rear of the Beast - some distance behind the driver - could lunge for the steering wheel.
But if Ms Hutchinson's recollections are shown to be accurate, then Trump's behaviour on January 6th - that day of infamy - will be seen by many Americans as so damaging that his bid for another term in the White House may be finished before it has even begun.