- Former Trump aides are stunned by Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony about January 6.
- "Definitely most damning day of testimony," one former White House aide told Insider.
- Many Trump insiders had previously brushed off the hearings.
It took six hearings for the January 6 select committee to finally break through to embattled former President Donald Trump's inner circle.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a top aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified during a surprise hearing Tuesday that Trump was determined to go to the US Capitol with his armed supporters on January 6, 2021, as Congress was certifying the election results.
Hutchinson's additional revelations about that day came crashing down on Trumpworld during the two-hour hearing. Among them were that Meadows told Hutchinson "things might get real, real bad" on January 6, that Trump knew his supporters were armed when they flooded the Ellipse to attend his "Stop the Steal" rally, and that Trump said "Mike deserves it" when rioters chanted "hang Mike Pence."
"Definitely most damning day of testimony," one former White House aide told Insider.
Hutchinson's first-hand descriptions of Trump's narcissistic tantrums while carnage was unfolding at the US Capitol was spellbinding, one former Trump 2016 campaign aide told Insider.
Hutchinson revealed that when Trump would become angry he would throw dishes and flip tablecloths in the White House dining room, including after Attorney General Bill Barr said there wasn't evidence of widespread election fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the 2020 election.
"She's talking about how he's throwing ketchup all over the White House. Choking Secret Service. Trying, as president of the United States, to head over to a riot," the former campaign aide said. "You're really hearing how the sausage is made. And it's not pretty."
Trump should rightfully be worried, the campaign aide suggested.
"This is a full-frontal attack that he has no real way to respond to. Nor, frankly, can he," the person said.
A lobbyist in touch with ex-Trump officials told Insider that "there was genuine shock among people who are otherwise not inclined to overreact" and that "something clearly broke through" even among people who had previously dismissed the hearings.
"This is really difficult to dismiss because it's obviously coming from a source that was there and knows these things," the person added. "And so unless you're gonna go out for her credibility, I don't really know what there is to say."
Another particularly jarring recollection Hutchinson shared was that Trump lunged at a Secret Service agent and tried to grab the steering wheel of his SUV as he demanded to be taken to the Capitol on January 6, saying, "I'm the effing president!"
"This is some insane shit," tweeted Alex Stroman, a former spokesman for Trump's inaugural committee.
"Today's hearing brought a powerful fact back into focus: Donald Trump is the most dangerous man — ever — to have served as president of the United States," tweeted Miles Taylor, a former Trump administration official who now supports Democrats.
"After this, there's only one thing I'll enjoy about Trump trying to run for president: watching him lose, again," Taylor tweeted later.
Trumpworld tries to undermine Hutchinson's credibility
Trump's supporters and the former president himself publicly tried to undermine Hutchinson's testimony after the hearings. Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, that he'd heard she was a "total phony" and "leaker."
"I hardly know this person," he wrote, saying that he had declined her request to work on his post-presidential operation in Florida.
"Another swamp social climber making up stories for her (not even) 15 minutes. Pathetic," Liz Harrington, a spokeswoman for Trump's post-presidential office, wrote on Truth Social.
Brendan Buck, who was counselor to former House Speaker Paul Ryan, said that Republicans recognized Hutchinson, 25, as "somebody who can deliver the goods" even though Trump's allies tried to downplay her as a junior aide. Buck said Hutchinson was always at Meadow's side on Capitol Hill.
"It doesn't matter how old she is," said Buck, now a partner at the communications firm Seven Letter. "She was in the middle of everything. She saw everything."
Buck, who has watched most of the hearings, said that the committee delivered after it suddenly announced the previously unscheduled hearing on Monday. The hearing, he said, detailed what White House officials understood about their legal jeopardy, the threat of violence, and the president's actions "in a much more vivid way."
"This is the first hearing where we got truly new information, stunning new things that hadn't already leaked out in some way or hadn't been reported somewhere else," he said.
Still, he said, the committee must drive toward a conclusion, such as authoritatively determining that a crime was committed, for the hearings to have a political impact on Trump.
"There needs to be a point to it beyond how shocking that is," he said. "If it leads to something bigger, perhaps an indictment, I think that would cast a pretty big cloud over his ability to run again."
The former campaign aide who spoke to Insider on condition of anonymity predicted that if the select committee convinces Attorney General Merrick Garland to indict Trump, he shouldn't expect the type of professional courtesy that former President Gerald Ford extended to his disgraced predecessor Richard Nixon.
"He's in a bad place. Because If he gets indicted, the best he's going to be able to hope for, assuming he's found guilty, is for Biden to commute his sentence," the former campaign aide said.
Others in Trump's inner circle could be affected legally as well. During the hearing, Hutchinson testified that she wanted Meadows to "snap out of this" as a mob encroached on the Capitol. She also revealed that Meadows and Rudy Giuliani sought presidential pardons.
Mick Mulvaney, who was one of Trump's chiefs of staff, predicted on Twitter that Meadows would get indicted if he didn't appear before the committee.
"My guess is that ultimately he shows," he wrote.