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Politics

‘He knows he lost’: Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Trump acknowledged he lost 2020 election

Shortly after the 2020 election was called for Joe Biden, then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told his aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, that President Donald Trump knew he lost but wanted to keep fighting to overturn the results, according to a newly released transcript from the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.

The transcript of Hutchinson’s September 14, 2022, interview with the committee, which took place after she testified publicly, was released Thursday by the panel. It details post-election conversations that Hutchinson described, where multiple people said Trump acknowledged he had lost but was unwilling to concede.

Hutchinson testified that Meadows told her on November 18, 2020, that Trump “has pretty much acknowledged that he’s lost,” the transcript says.

“A lot of times he’ll tell me that he lost, but he wants to keep fighting it, and he thinks that there might be enough to overturn the election,” Meadows told Hutchinson that day about Trump, according to her retelling of the conversation.

Hutchinson also testified that in late December 2020, Meadows lamented to her that Trump would get upset any time he mentioned the transition, telling the committee that Meadows said something to the effect of: “he’s just so angry at me all the time I can’t talk to him about anything post-White House without him getting mad that we didn’t win.”

“Later in the interview, Hutchinson told the committee she spoke with Meadows immediately after a call with Georgia officials on January 2, 2021, where Trump pushed officials to help overturn the election results there.”

“He said something to the effect of, ‘he knows it’s over. He knows he lost. But we are going to keep trying. There’s a chance he didn’t lose. I want to pull this off for him,’” Hutchinson said, recounting what Meadows told her about Trump.

In a September 15 deposition, Hutchinson echoed her testimony that she heard about Trump fighting with his security detail on January 6, according to another deposition transcript.

Hutchinson, who faced an onslaught of public criticism and pushback from Trump allies after she revealed the story she was told about Trump supposedly lunging at the driver of his presidential SUV on January 6, 2021, because he was angry that they wouldn’t take him to the US Capitol. During that public hearing, she said she heard the story from Tony Ornato, who was serving as deputy White House chief of staff at the time.

But after her public hearing and the avalanche of pushback, Hutchinson said she had “no doubts” about her previous testimony.

“I have no doubts in the conversation that I had with Mr. Ornato on January 6th. I have no doubts in how I’ve relayed that story privately and publicly” Hutchinson said, according to the transcript, which was released Thursday.

She also shared that Ornato made “sarcastic offhand remarks” to her about the story at least two times after he initially mentioned it – on January 19 and April 16 – according to the transcript.

“I have no doubts about the two instances on January 19th and April 16th about the conversation,” Hutchinson added.

In the April 16 call, Hutchinson described a phone conversation to committee investigators where Ornato made a comment like “it could be worse. The president could have tried to kill – he didn’t say kill – the president could have tried to strangle you on January 6.”

Hutchinson acknowledged that Ornato did not specify he was referring to the incident on January 6 but she said, “I assumed from the context of our phone call and from the conversations that we had had while still at the White House that he was referencing that incident. I have no reason to believe that he was referencing any other incident.”

In June, Hutchinson publicly testified that Ornato told her about an altercation between the former president and the head of his Secret Service detail when he was told he could not go to the Capitol on January 6.

The committee wrote in its report summary, which was released Monday, that they were unable to get Ornato to corroborate Hutchinson’s testimony about the alleged altercation in the presidential SUV.

The committee summary said both Hutchinson and a White House employee testified to the committee about the Ornato conversation. But “Ornato professed that he did not recall either communication, and that he had no knowledge at all about the president’s anger.”

The committee also released six more interview transcripts Thursday night, shedding new light on their closed-door sessions with key witnesses.

In one transcript, Sarah Matthews, a former White House deputy press secretary, told the committee that Trump tried to get then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany to hold briefings about supposed fraud tied to Dominion voting machines – but McEnany refused.

“She felt uncomfortable promoting the Dominion conspiracy theory, and that the president had asked her to talk about that during interviews” Matthews told committee investigators. “He did request her to do briefings on it as well, but we did not.”

Matthews added that Trump encouraged McEnany to also put forward these conspiracy theories on cable news hits, which she said made McEnany uncomfortable and led to her attempting to avoid Trump after the election.

Matthews testified publicly over the summer about how Trump’s conduct on January 6 led her to resign by the end of that day.

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