Cassidy Hutchinson's bombshell testimony before the House of Representatives committee investigating the events surrounding January 6 portrayed former president Donald Trump as unhinged in the days leading up to the attack on the US Capitol building.
The former aide, who spoke at a surprise committee hearing on Tuesday, disputed claims that the deadly assault on the Capitol was a spontaneous event by providing a first-hand account of how senior White House officials and even the president himself were aware that people were armed with AR-15-style rifles and other weapons on January 6.
She has become one of the panel's most useful witnesses. In previous closed-door evidence aired by the committee, Ms Hutchinson named several Republicans who had sought pardons from the former president following the January 6 insurrection.
Ms Hutchinson interned with Steve Scalise, a Republican representative, and Ted Cruz, a Republican senator, before coming to the White House. She worked in the White House legal affairs office in 2019 before taking a position under Mark Meadows, Mr Trump's chief of staff.
As a top aide to Mr Meadows, Ms Hutchinson acted as a liaison between the White House and Congress. Much of her day-to-day tasks involved spending time on Capitol Hill helping to arrange presidential travel and serving Mr Meadows's needs, which “was a reflection” of the schedule that day.
Ms Hutchinson had “very close access” to Mr Trump's chief of staff, CNN reported, and she was considered to be a Trump loyalist.
Photos shared by the House committee showed Ms Hutchinson alongside Mr Scalise, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan, a Republican representative.
Other photos showed her with the president and members of Congress aboard Air Force One.
“Anyone downplaying Cassidy Hutchinson’s role or her access in the West Wing either doesn’t understand how the Trump White House worked or is attempting to discredit her because they’re scared of how damning this testimony is,” former White House deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews said in a tweet.
At the top of Tuesday's hearing, the committee also provided a graphic of the White House demonstrating how close Mr Meadows's office was to the Oval Office, underscoring Ms Hutchinson's proximity to Mr Trump. It would take about 10 seconds for Ms Hutchinson to travel from Mr Meadows's office to Mr Trump's, she told the committee.
Altercation inside 'The Beast' reportedly in doubt
One of the most intense moments of Ms Hutchinson's hearing detailed how Mr Trump tried to take control of the steering wheel in the presidential vehicle, known as “The Beast”, in a desperate attempt to join his supporters outside the Capitol.
“The president reached up to the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel,” she said.
Ms Hutchinson said she was told that Mr Trump then lunged at a member of his security detail, who refused to let the former president take control of the car.
Three Secret Service agents who accompanied Mr Trump refuted the claim that he had attempted to grab the steering wheel or had attacked the member of his security detail, The Washington Post reported, citing two former law enforcement officials.
The two officials did not dispute claims that Mr Trump was irate and exchanged harsh words with one of the agents.
The agents who were in “The Beast” are “available to testify under oath” to respond to Ms Hutchinson's testimony, US media reported.