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Erin Burnett Outfront
Ex-White House Aide: Trump Wanted Supporters At Capitol, Knew They Were Armed; Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Is Interviewed About The January 6 Hearing Today; "Bombshell": Trump Adviser: No One Taking January 6 Testimony Lightly; Secret Service Will Respond To Testimony Tied To Trump-SUV Incident; 51 Migrants Dead In "Worst Human Smuggling Event" In U.S. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 28, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, game-changing testimony. A key witness revealing Trump not only knew about the potential for violence on January 6th, but waived off concerned and sent his armed supporters to the Capitol anyway.
Plus, testimony jaw dropping about Trump trying to seize the wheel of his SUV after his January 6th speech to join the mob at the Capitol. Can anyone corroborate that story? I'm going to ask a member of the January 6th Committee about it.
And 51 people dead in the back of the truck in sweltering heat and it happened in the United States of America.
Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, a transformative moment in what was some of the most explosive testimony of the January 6th hearing to date. Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows, laid bare just how much Trump wanted the crowd to march to the Capitol, knowing they were armed, knowing his rally could turn violent.
Here she is talking about the warning from top White House aide Tony Ornato.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: I remember Mr. Ornato had talked about intelligence reports. I've heard Mr. Ornato coming in and saying that we had intel reports saying that there could potentially be violence on the 6th.
Remember, Tony mentioning knives, guns, in the form of pistols and rifles, bear spray, body armor, spears and flagpoles. Spears were one item, flag poles were one item, Tony, then relayed something to the effect of "and these f'ing people are fastening spears on to the end of flag poles". REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): So, Ms. Hutchinson, is it your understanding
that Mr. Ornato told the president about weapons on the rally of January 6th?
HUTCHINSON: That's what Mr. Ornato relayed to me.
I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, I don't f'ing care if they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me. Take the f'ing mags away. Let my people in to march to the Capitol from here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, knowing they were armed, saying take away the mags and let them march on the Capitol.
In total, today's hearing actually revealed 15 warnings about potential violence at the Capitol and they were blunt, like, this might, get, quote, real real bad. There were 14 more where that came from.
Hutchinson also described in never before heard details just how unhinged Trump had become on January 6th and the days leading up to it, including what was frankly an eyebrow-raising moment on January 6th where Hutchinson says she was told second hand that Trump lunged today front of the SUV he was in and tried to take the steering wheel from the Secret Service agent who refused to drive him to the Capitol.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUTCHINSON: The president said something to the effect of, I'm the f'ing president, take me up to the Capitol now, to which Bobby responded, sir, we have to go back to the West Wing. The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We're going back to the West Wing. We're not going to the Capitol.
Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel and when Mr. Ornato had recounted the story to me, he motioned towards his clavicles.
CHENEY: And was Mr. Engel in the room as Mr. Ornato told you this story?
HUTCHINSON: He was.
CHENEY: Did Mr. Engel correct or disagree with any part of the story from Mr. Ornato?
HUTCHINSON: Mr. Engel did not correct or disagree with any part of the story.
CHENEY: Did Mr. Engel or Mr. Ornato ever after that tell you that what Mr. Ornato has just said was untrue?
HUTCHINSON: Neither Mr. Ornato nor Mr. Engel told me ever that it was untrue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Trump, for his part, denying some of the damning claims from Hutchinson's testimony that she made under oath.
Pamela Brown is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill.
Pamela, what more are you learning tonight?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, I spoke to a Capitol police officer who was here on January 6th and was inside the hearing today. And he said he felt a sense of betrayal listening to Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, relaying the warning signs that the former President Trump and his chief of staff Mark Meadows apparently willfully ignored time and time again.
And while this testimony was certainly shocking to former White House aides, one former aide of Trump I spoke to said it was all 100 percent believable as well given how chaotic things were behind the scenes at the White House as Trump tried to overturn the election results.
HUTCHINSON: As an American, I was disgusted.
BROWN (voice-over): Bombshell testimony from surprise witness Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
HUTCHINSON: That evening was the first moment that I remember feeling scared, and nervous for what could happen on January 6th.
BROWN: Hutchinson telling the committee White House officials knew something big was brewing for January 6th, testifying that four days prior, Trump's former attorney Rudy Giuliani turned her Trump himself planned to go to the Capitol on the 6th.
HUTCHINSON: We're going to the Capitol. It's going to be great. The president is going to be there. He's going to look powerful.
BROWN: And when she approached Meadows for more details, she says Meadows gave an ominous response.
HUTCHINSON: He didn't look up from his phone and said something to the effect of, there's a lot going on, Cass, but I don't know, things might get real, real bad on January 6th.
BROWN: After, things did get real bad at the Capitol. According to Hutchinson, lead White House counsel Pat Cipollone pleaded with Meadows to get Trump to do something to stop it, saying --
HUTCHINSON: Mark, something needs to be done or people are going to die. The blood is going to be on your f'ing hands. This is getting out of control.
BROWN: And even when the rioters began to chant --
CROWD: Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!
BROWN: -- Meadows told Cipollone, Trump believed Pence deserves it.
HUTCHINSON: Mark had responded something to the effect of, you heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn't think they're doing anything wrong.
BROWN: Hutchinson said, on the 7th, Meadows encouraged Trump to condemn the rioters to salvage his legacy.
HUTCHINSON: There's already talks about invoking the 25th Amendment. You need this as cover.
BROWN: And Hutchinson describes seeing Trump express rage various times over stories regarding his 2020 election loss. One such time after his former attorney general told "The Associated Press" he had not seen widespread fraud that would change the election.
HUTCHINSON: There was ketchup dripping down the wall and a shattered porcelain plate on the floor. The valet had articulated that the president was extremely angry at the attorney general's "A.P." interview and had thrown his lunch against the wall.
BROWN: A former Trump loyalist, Hutchinson testified that watching the violence and destruction unfold on January 6th was devastating.
HUTCHINSON: It was unpatriotic. It was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie. It's something that, it, I still struggle to work through the emotions of that.
BROWN: Another revelation coming out from Cassidy Hutchinson today during this testimony, that was under oath, we should add, she said that Mark Meadows, her former boss, and the president's former attorney, Rudy Giuliani, sought presidential pardons relating to January 6th.
Back to you.
BURNETT: All right. Pamela, thank you so much.
I want to bring in to talk now about all of this as Pamela shared, Ryan Goodman, co-editor in chief of Just Security, an online legal forum that's been devoted to the January 6th investigations as of late; Van Jones, former special adviser to President Obama; Stephanie Grisham, former Trump White House press secretary who actually resigned on January 6th, following the insurrection; and former Nixon White House counsel and Watergate whistle blower, John Dean.
So, Van, there was -- there was a lot in there today. But this was jaw-dropping hearing. It was a powerful witness. What did Cassidy Hutchinson prove today?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think she proved that she cares a lot about this country. She's 25, 26 years old. You know, when you take a job at the White House, you take the same oath that you take when you join the military, that you're supposed to put the Constitution above everything else, and as best she could, she did that today.
She gets nothing out of it. She's probably destroyed her career with the Republicans. She's a strong conservative. I think that she did something I wish more people would do. She came forward and shared what she knew and what she heard and I think she should be commended for that.
So, Ryan, we heard Hutchinson say Trump knew his protesters had weapons and heard her detailing what those were as she were told and to great details, spears and spears affixed to the end of flag poles, right?
And then she hears a conversation with him speaking about well, knowing this about the weapons, what to happen. Let me just play this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUTCHINSON: I was in the vicinity of a conversation where I overheard the president say something to the effect of, you know, I don't f'ing care that they have weapons.
They're not here to hurt me. Take the f'ing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: All right. So did those things, Ryan, and knowing these protesters were armed, he then went ahead, okay? Not just -- not just that she heard him say, oh, let them march on the Capitol. He did went and spoke to that crowd, and he said this:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We're going to walk down to the Capitol and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women and probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, Ryan, he said that after he had been told they were armed and he had responded take away the mags, they're not here to hurt me. He then tells them to march on the Capitol. What does that say?
RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER DEPENSE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL COUNSEL: I thought it was incredible. To me, it was the most legally significant part of the testimony because it demonstrated that the Justice Department very well might have a case to incitement to riot or maybe even seditious conspiracy. He had knowledge they were armed then directed them to the Capitol after confiding in others that he knew that and wanted that. He wanted them to go there, his armed supporters included.
Really just incredible information that's now in the public and obviously, the Justice Department is following this closely.
BURNETT: I also just found it so important how, you know, we heard him say that. It has always been troubling, and yet her context provided so much more, they provided that he knew they were armed, they provided that he said, take away any mags. I mean, it is incredible how the testimony can add so much even at this point.
And, John Dean, on that front, CNN reporting tonight that some House Republicans are stunned by what they heard from Hutchinson today from that crucial context. Congressional Republicans, of course, have been so incredibly loyal and almost to uniformly loyal to Trump.
Do you think, John, that today could be the beginning of that dam breaking or not?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a close call, for this reason. Most of these Republicans are now authoritarian personalities. They're attracted to a leader like Trump. And I've studied these personalities for about eight years now. They are very fixed. It's very hard to move them.
So, some on the edge may well rethink their position. But the hard core and his base is not going to be changed by this.
BURNETT: Stephanie, there was so much. You heard Ryan say the most legally significant would be knowing they were armed and having them march anyway, but there were so many moments that stood out. One of them was, you heard in Pamela's piece, Hutchinson recounting a temper tantrum after Bill Barr told a news outlet the Justice Department hasn't uncovered any news of voter fraud so Trump seized that report and then here's the moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUTCHINSON: There was ketchup dripping down the wall and a shattered porcelain plate on the floor. The valet had articulated that the president was extremely angry at the attorney general's "AP" interview and had thrown his lunch against the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Stephanie, you worked closely with Trump for years. I mean, there's just something, imagining this, someone throwing their plate against the wall, ketchup dripping down, those details. Had you heard this story before today, Stephanie? STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I hadn't
heard the story. I was actually sick to my stomach today watching on so many fronts. Number one, he knew people were armed and he get -- he sent them to the Capitol.
But his temper was swift and it was -- it was scary. I was on the receiving end of it many, many times. I mean, I witnessed him throwing pens and papers but it didn't -- it rang completely true to me. I thought that she was a really credible witness. I didn't know her at all, I didn't work with her, the moment Meadows joined the West Wing I left and went to East Wing.
But I thought she was very credible and I think you were exactly spot on, that it gave so much context for people as to the way he behaved and his thinking especially on that day.
JONES: Listen, you work in the White House, you see a lot of stuff. And you have this sense that whatever you see, you're going to keep to yourself forever.
For a young White House staffer to say, I'm going to go before the entire world and say this kind of thing, she's -- something that she saw and experienced disturbed her deeply and that is why she did what she did.
BURNETT: And, you know, here's the thing, Ryan, it happened now, right? I mean, you know, there are still people who are grappling with this who may come forward. I don't think that that is what Americans expected. I don't think that's what legal scholars expected.
I think that people thought this was a pretty well-known timeline and you get what you get. But the end of the hearing, Chairman Bennie Thompson praised her and then, you know -- by the way, this hearing came together with 24 hours notice, right, that's because she came forward.
So he delivered this message to others who have not yet spoken out. Here is he.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): If you've heard this testimony today and suddenly you remember things you couldn't previously recall, or there's some details you'd like to clarify, or you discovered some courage you had hidden away somewhere, our doors remain open.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Are we going to hear more?
GOODMAN: I think we very well might. It does sound as though the committee is very credible when they say they have got other people coming forward since June -- the beginning of June when they've had this public hearings and you think, person number one, Pat Cipollone, he obviously has a lot of information, he should come forward because he seems to have played a positive role through the timeline.
But we haven't heard from him, and then there are others as well, the committee come forward and corroborate what she said. I also say that if they don't come forward, I think the Justice Department might very well sit down with them and the Justice Department is not going to have a hard time subpoenaing them or the like.
BURNETT: Right, right.
So, John, it has been suggested that the hearing or the testimony today from Hutchinson was sort of reminiscent of your Watergate testimony, or maybe that of Alexander Butterfield, who testified at what at the time, hastily arranged hearing, came as a surprise, all of a sudden there he was, and he testified about the existence of the tapes, right? The tapes. He changed history forever and it was the unexpected unplanned hearing that did so.
Do you think that's what we saw today, or that that's what we still could see here?
DEAN: Well I do agree with the fact the surprise witness parallels Butterfield, but we got no satisfaction from Butterfield, because it took years, in fact decades, to get all the tapes. So it took a long time to get the initial tapes.
So with her, we got instance gratification. She explained what she was talking about, what she'd seen, what had occurred. So that was very satisfying.
With my testimony, it was very protracted. I read a 60,000 word statement they insisted I'd read, that would not have been 60,000 words if I knew I had to read it, and then I answered questions for four days for eight hours a day. So mine was very lengthy. Although, you know, I had confronted a lot of the issues she had to confront on just one day she talked about.
BURNETT: So, Stephanie, Hutchinson also testified that Rudy Giuliani who was Trump's lawyer and White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who's obviously central in this hearing today, because Hutchinson, of course, worked for him, that they both suggested that they were interested in presidential pardons related to January 6th.
Stephanie, does -- what does that tell you?
GRISHAM: Well, it didn't surprise me. I can tell you that. And as has been said many times, I think if you're asking for a pardon, it's because you know you've done something wrong, legally wrong, you know.
And throughout these hearings, his personal assistance, Nick Luna, has also said the president talked about giving everybody a blanket pardon. So that tells me that they all knew what they were doing is wrong. And I just -- I want to commend Cassidy for her profile in courage today because it comes with her threat to her safety as well. And I do hope, as you were talking about earlier, that a lot of people -- more people, including Pat Cipollone, and Tony Ornato, who they spoke about today, will come forward. BURNETT: Right. And Pat Cipollone, of course, being crucial.
But, Van, you know, having worked in a White House, having you have worked also with a lot of people who are in that White House, do you think there will be more? You know, especially when you look at someone like Cassidy Hutchinson. It's not a name anyone would know.
BURNETT: She was barely out of college. And, yet, now, she's a profile in courage, but there are others like her.
JONES: Listen, the White House is full of young people just like that, they're doing everything from briefing the president, to grabbing coffee, they see a lot. Until now, none of them had broken their silence. This could be the beginning of a tidal wave of that.
BURNETT: It's like breaking the dam.
All right. Thank you all very much.
And next, the January 6th making accusations of witness tampering. Is there evidence that the president himself involved? I'm going to talk to a member of the committee, next, Adam Schiff.
Plus, one of Trump's own adviser speaking out tonight about Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, hear what they're saying.
And she is 26 years old, virtually unknown. Now, though, a household name. So who is Cassidy Hutchinson?
BURNETT: Tonight, witness tampering. The January 6th Committee saying it's worried people connected to former President Trump trying to influence those testifying before the committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: Our committee commonly asks witnesses connected to Mr. Trump's administration or campaign whether they've been contacted by any of their form of colleagues or anyone else who attempted to influence or impact their testimony.
This is a call received by one of our witnesses. Quote: A person let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know he's thinking about you. He knows you're loyal and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The person.
OUTFRONT now, a member of the January 6th Select Committee, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.
Congressman, you know, pretty chilling to hear that from Liz Cheney. Do you believe the witness -- witness tampering was coming at the direction of the former president? Is that the person?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, I don't know, but certainly, we've seen a history of the former president trying to influence witnesses or intimidate them. You'll remember, I'm sure, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testifying during the Ukraine hearings being the subject of an attack by the former president on Twitter in real time that she took as a threat.
And, you know, prior to Rusty Bower's testimony just last week, the president attacking that witness. The commutation of Roger Stone's sentence by Donald Trump, Roger Stone having been convicted of lying to Congress and trying to intimidate other witnesses into telling -- against telling the truth to Congress.
So there is a history here. We are very concerned about it whether it's the former president or anyone else trying to influence or intimidate witnesses before our committee.
BURNETT: Some of the testimony today, Congressman, was jaw-dropping, just to be honest with you.
And certainly, you know, I, along with many others in this country, of all political persuasions had that feeling.
The question for you, though, is, do you believe that the new information you put forward today -- because there was a lot of new information -- but does it prove that Trump committed a crime?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, taking off my January 6th hat for a moment and putting on my hat as a former prosecutor, what really stands out to me about the testimony today is that testimony when Donald Trump was informed that people in the crowd were armed and dangerous, his response was take the magnetometers down. These people don't pose a threat to me, that is, Donald Trump, take the magnetometers down. I want them to march -- I want them to march with me to the Capitol.
And, you know, if you had any question about whether the question knew these people were armed or that they were dangerous, I think it's pretty clear from that testimony today. He knew what a threat they posed and yet he was insistent on marching to the capitol, to the point of potentially getting in an altercation with his own Secret Service about it.
So that is, I think, some of the most relevant evidence as to the president's knowledge and his state of mind inciting that mob to attack the Capitol.
BURNETT: And one of the things she testified, you know, you refer to and this is she was told, she said, by Tony Ornato who was then the White House deputy chief of staff, that on January 6th, Trump was so enraged at this Secret Service detail from blocking him from going to the Capitol that he tried to grab a steering wheel and he lunged at the Secret Service agent in charge, named Robert Engel, the man who was in the SUV with Trump at the steering wheel. He lunged at him.
Now, Trump denies the story. You used the word "potentially" a moment ago when you referenced it. Have you been able to corroborate this jaw-dropping story with Ornato, with Engel, or anyone else who may have witnessed it firsthand?
SCHIFF: You know, I can't comment on other testimony before the committee, but, you know, I can say that we do want people to come forward with information they have. And here, because she is relating and doing so very openly, a conversation that others had, that they told her about, you know, we invite other witnesses that have knowledge about this to come forward -- more witnesses to come forward, to come forward again, if they have more information into this.
What we have found is often bringing witnesses back, they tell a more complete version when we know more of the questions to ask. So we hope to learn more about this and other aspects of her testimony today.
BURNETT: Right, and as you point out, you know, being told they were armed and saying take away the magnetometers and so that -- and let's march on the Capitol, incredibly damning.
Do you have any concerns, though, Congressman, that the story, you know, about him sort of lunging for the Secret Service agent and lunging for the steering wheel is not true?
SCHIFF: Look, I believe Cassidy Hutchinson. I think she's a very -- very smart, very capable, very honest individual. She has no incentive to make up something that isn't true.
And so, I think she's a very, very credible witness. She has been very consistent in pointing out things that she doesn't know.
SCHIFF: And as a former prosecutor, one of the things I look for in a witness is what are they telling me that they know and are they willing me to tell they don't know things and to set out the limits of their knowledge, she has done I think consistently and I think that makes her very credible.
BURNETT: Right, right. Of course, I'm sure she is saying exactly what she has been told and believed to be true. I guess I'm wondering if you think what she was told had been hyperbole or exaggerated in any way.
SCHIFF: Well, you know, all she can relate is what she knows and what she's heard.
SCHIFF: And this is why, you know, not just with the respect to this but with respect to any other element of her testimony or, frankly, others, we want people to go forward and share what they know as well.
History will be very kind to the Cassidy Hutchinsons. Those that hide behind phony claims of privilege or hide because they feel they can get away with it I think will be damned by history for their inactions while our democracy was threatened.
BURNETT: Of course, you know, history being written via these hearings as we see all of this presented.
Thank you so much, Congressman Schiff. I appreciate your time tonight.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, Trump's orbit responds. We're learning new details about how those closest to Trump see today's testimony.
Plus, Cassidy Hutchinson was not a household name. She's now been thrust into the spotlight after her crucial testimony. So, who is the 26-year-old and how did she end up getting so close to Trump and a part of his inner circle?
BURNETT: Bombshell, stunning, shocking -- those are the words. That's how one of Trump's own advisers is describing Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony speaking to CNN today.
Gabby Orr has been breaking news on this all day from the Trump orbit, and she's OUTFRONT now.
So, Gabby, you know, what part of today's testimony really stood out to the people that you have been speaking to?
GABBY ORR, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Erin, I spoke with several Trump advisers today and allies of the former president and a number of them said they were taken aback by the description Hutchinson offered of this outbursts by the former president, specifically when he learned on January 6th that he could not go to the U.S. Capitol and when he first heard about the interview that Attorney General Bill Barr gave confirming there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
Now, of course, these are Trump aides and advisers who have been witness to his temper themselves at times.
But one adviser told me that this could certainly cut against the image that a lot of Trump supporters have of the former president and that is of somebody who is always in control.
BURNETT: Well, yes, certainly, you referenced the one when he found out about Bill Barr in the "AP" interview, the valet telling Cassidy Hutchinson that he threw his plate against the wall, ketchup dripping down. I mean, details were incredible and certainly not of a person in control at all.
Now, Trump lashed out today. He called Hutchinson a liar, Gabby. He said, quote, her fake story that I tried to grab the steering wheel of the White House limousine in order to steer to the Capitol building is sick and fraudulent.
Now, it was, of course, a shocking story, Gabby. Cassidy Hutchinson was very clear, though, that she heard this secondhand from people who are involved in it.
What are you hearing from your sources about it?
ORR: Well, this is one part of her testimony today that has drawn mixed reactions from inside Trump world and among both former and current aides to the former president. There were a lot of former White House officials who were quick to vouch for Hutchinson's testimony both during and after today's hearing. That includes people like former deputy White House press secretary Sara Matthews, former White House communications director Alyssa Farah.
But there are others, including former President Trump who has dismissed her proximity to him when she was serving in the White House and a number of aides tell me they want to know specifically, and you did just ask Congressman Adam Schiff this, if those two Secret Service officials, Tony Ornato and Robby Engel who were in the presidential vehicle on January 6th with the president at the time, if they also describe this alleged incident when they testified before the committee, Erin.
BURNETT: These are -- these are crucial things, and as you say, they have heard from them, you know, the level of corroboration here, this is obviously going to be important for this one specific part of this.
Gabby, thanks so much.
And, you know, tonight, a source tells CNN that Cassidy Hutchinson agreed to testify at the January 6th hearing because she wanted to do the right thing. And she did it in the face of growing fears about her own safety.
Kristen Holmes is OUTFRONT with more.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once a top aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Cassidy Hutchinson is now a star witness in a House January 6th Committee's investigation.
MARK MEADOWS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well hello, deplorables!
HOLMES: Meadows refuses to be interviewed by the House committee, once provided thousands of text messages in the early stages of the investigation, showing him at the center of Trump's lies about the 2020 election and playing a lead role in attempting to stop Biden's certification.
In Hutchinson's proximity to him, gave her unique access to conversations, meetings and events surrounding January 6th.
OLIVIA TROYE, FORMER ADVISER TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Wherever Mark Meadows was, Cassidy was there, and they were inseparable. And so, she was a trusted confidant.
HOLMES: Hutchinson served as an intern for Representative Steve Scalise and Senator Ted Cruz, before eventually taking a role as an intern at the White House. Hutchinson told her alma mater, Christopher Newport University in Virginia, that she had set a new personal goal to pursue a path of civic significance, adding that she was, quote, brought to tears when she got a White House internship.
Hutchinson later joined the office of legislative affairs, before Meadows hand-picked her to join his West Wing office. The 26-year-old, according to sources, was always by Meadows side, sitting in on meetings, taking notes, and at times serving as a liaison between the former president's right hand and those seeking to reach him.
BRENDAN BUCK, FORMER TOP ADIE TO HOUSE SPEAKERS PAUL RYAN AND JOHN BOEHNER: Hutchinson was a relatively junior aide but she was as close to mark meadows as you can get as a staffer. She was generally with him on his side at all times, especially coming to the hill, any meeting that he took, she was in, no matter how small the meeting was.
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: I'm the f'ing president, take me up to the Capitol now.
HOLMES: During her explosive testimony, former President Trump took to his social media site, attacking Hutchinson, saying he hardly knew her other than hearing, quote, very negative things about her. A total phony and leaker.
Trump saying he personally turned down her request to join his team in Florida, but some from Trump's White House pushed back.
ALYSSA FARAH, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: She was senior adviser to the chief of staff. She was a senior adviser of legislative affairs and she's a special assistant to the president. She was so plugged in I would often go to her to get intel on the president's schedules, movements, things we're considering in event and she was on a first name basis with many members of congressional leadership. She would text with them.
So she's seen everything. She's been in so many rooms. She was always on Air Force One.
HOLMES: Former White House press secretary Sarah Matthews tweeted, quote, anyone downplaying Cassidy Hutchinson's role or her access in the West Wing either doesn't understand how the Trump White House worked or attempting to discredit because they're scared of how damning this testimony is.
[19:40:08] Those close to Hutchinson described her as wanting to serve her country.
FARAH: I considered her my best friend when I was in the West Wing. She was somebody who felt strongly about serving in government, was so proud to do it.
TROYE: She was someone who was very dedicated to her role and someone who was a very trusted confidante of Mark Meadows and to many others in the West Wing.
BURNETT: And, Kristen, so powerful because all those individuals knew her so well. So what more have you learned about the relationship between Hutchinson and Meadows?
HOLMES: Well, Erin, I'll tell you that I spoke to a number of people who were familiar with the close nature of the relationship between Hutchinson and Meadows who were absolutely stunned by what they saw. Today, this complete break by Hutchinson from Meadows, a man she had been so loyal to.
But one of former White House aides says the two had a falling out back in 2021 and another source says that Meadows gave Hutchinson zero support when she was entangled in the investigation of January 6th and all of these events leading to where we are now -- Erin.
TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much, Kristen, for your report.
And next, just in, the Secret Service is speaking out after Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony today. We have what the agency is saying tonight.
Plus, a tragedy as authorities discover 51 bodies stacked in inside a tractor trailer. A horrible details of what's being called the worst human smuggling event in the United States.
BURNETT: Just in to CNN, the Secret Service weighing in just a moment ago in the wake of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony to the January 6th Committee where she recounted how she was told that Trump lunged at a Secret Service agent and tried to grab the steering wheel when that agent refused to take Trump to the Capitol on January 6th.
National security and law enforcement correspondent Josh Campbell has some developments on this.
Josh, what is the Secret Service saying so far about this?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, after these bombshell allegations, and we'll remind our viewers that she was saying is that she was briefed, this former Trump White House staffer by a member of Trump team, that as the president was leaving the rally, there was this altercation in the limousine where he thought he was going to the Capitol but instead was told by security detail that, no, sir, we have to go back to the West Wing of the White House.
This staffer alleged at this point the president tried to grab the steering wheel, lunged for one of the Secret Service agents. The Secret Service now coming out saying they are prepared to respond to these allegations.
I'll read you the statement: The United States Secret Service has been cooperating with the select committee since inception in spring of 2021 and will continue to do so including responding on the record to the committee regarding the new allegations surfaced in today's testimony. We're working on what the agents will be saying as it relate to see that incident.
But Secret Service now saying after this bombshell testimony, they're going to go on the record. They're going to respond to the committee. We'll have to wait to see if that's publicly or behind closed door.
BURNETT: Now, Josh, I just want to want to be clear, people following this very closely may say, well, the two individuals involved have testified to the committee behind closed doors. That is true, but it appears, and I want to emphasize, it appears, it appears they did it so before the committee was aware about this particular story. So that's why they perhaps wouldn't already had an answer from them about it -- just to give everyone context here.
Overall, Josh, for a buttoned up agency that is not typically in the spotlight and doesn't want to be in the spotlight, how awkward is this for the Secret Service?
CAMPBELL: Yeah, this is certainly awkward for this agency that typically operates behind the scenes. Their successes are typically unknown. Obviously, their failures have been well known whenever there've been controversies.
But again, this is an agency whose job is to protect the president of the United States. His or her families, other protectees, they don't typically go out there and seek the limelight but yet, they are being put squarely in the spotlight here now, saying that these agents had some kind of insight, at least according to this former staffer, into the president's state of mind because we know, according to her testimony, that the president was briefed and the Secret Service would have known that some of these rioters would have had weapons out among that crowd as they prepare to the go to the Capitol.
CAMPBELL: So the question comes down to, if Trump knew that this was an armed group that is heading to the Capitol, that obviously significant, perhaps, scandal for him to then say, no, I'm going to continue there anyway.
BURNETT: Right, right, and, of course, you know, we know from what she testified today that she, that he did know they were armed and that she overheard him saying then remove the metal detectors and let them go.
BURNETT: They're not there to hurt him.
All right. Josh, thank you very much.
And next, it's been called the deadliest human smuggling incident in American history. Fifty-one migrants found dead in the back of a sweltering semi-truck. The horrific details are next.
Plus, it is election night in America. It's a Tuesday, and all eyes on multiple election deniers who are on the ballot in tonight's contests.
BURNETT: Tonight, 51 people are dead in a horrible tragedy. Their bodies found stacked in the back of an abandoned truck in the sweltering heat, the conditions incomprehensible. And this all happened in the United States of America.
Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT.
RON NIRENBERG, MAYOR OF SAN ANTONIO: This is probably the worst tragedy in term of migration that I know in recent history.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, at least 51 migrants are dead and three individuals are in custody after police found the victims crammed inside a sweltering tractor trailer.
NIRENBERG: What they found was nothing short of horrific.
FLORES: Authorities say Monday evening, a person nearby heard a cry for help in an undeveloped area outside of San Antonio. And upon open the doors of the truck, discovered the graphic scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I also get one more here? I have too many bodies here. We got another body just north of the trailer.
Be on the on the lookout -- Hispanic male running southbound from the railroad tracks.
FLORES: Police say they saw no sign victims had water and that there was no air-conditioning as temperatures reached 100 degrees.
Forty-eight people died at the scene, three others at hospitals. Federal officials say another 16, 12 adults and four children were transported to local hospitals.
CHARLES HOOD, SAN ANTONIO FIRE CHIEF: The patients that we saw were hot to the touch. They were suffering from heatstroke, heat exhaustion. FLORES: The migrants were from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras,
officials say. Of those transported, hospital officials say, some remain in critical condition.
HOOD: We're not supposed to open a truck and see stacks of bodies in there.
FLORES: Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas says the truck went through a check point north of Laredo, Texas, Monday, about 150 miles southwest of San Antonio. It's unclear if the migrants entered the truck before or after the check point.
Federal officials say since October, more than 14,000 searches and rescues have taken place along the border. That's up from nearly 13,000 in 2021. The mayor of San Antonio now calling on Congress to take action.
NIRENBERG: Clearly, Congress' inability to reform our immigration system is causing or is manifesting in a lot of ways that are simply tragic.
FLORES: Two people have been charged so far. All this according to the charging documents which show that federal officials ran the registration plate of the semi.
They went to the registered address and arrested two individuals, and charged them with possession of a weapon by an undocumented person, which carries up to ten years in prison.
The U.S. Attorney's Office from the western district of Texas also issuing a statement saying this is an apparent human smuggling event.
Erin, at this hour, nobody has been charged with human smuggling.
BURNETT: All right. Rosa, thank you very much.
And next, it is a Tuesday. It is election night in America. We are a little over an hour from polls closing in Colorado. It's a crucial primary, an election denier running to oversee the state's elections.
BURNETT: We're just about an hour away from polls closing in Colorado tonight. Primaries were multiple election deniers are on the ballot. One of them banned from running elections in her county is now campaigning to run them for the entire state. The other recently saying there's, quote, evidence of fraud in multiple states, proof that even at this hour, the election lie is still alive and eating away at America, which is proof the January 6 Committee's work is as much about America's future as it is about setting the history straight.
Thanks so much for joining us. Don't forget OUTFRONT is anywhere and any time on CNN Go.
And our special coverage of the January 6 hearings continues now with "AC360".