Cassidy Hutchinson testifies before Fulton grand jury probe of Trump

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified Wednesday before the Fulton County special purpose grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump and his allies for alleged criminal interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election.

Hutchinson’s appearance marks a striking elevation of the ongoing probe.

Her testimony before the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol thrust Hutchinson into the national spotlight. And her recollections of conversations she testified she had or overheard indicate Trump believed he had lost the election even though he was giving public statements that he won, insisting it was stolen from him because of widespread fraud.

“Ms. Hutchinson was pleased to cooperate with the Fulton County special purpose grand jury and answer questions today with respect to its inquiry into events surrounding the 2020 election,” her lawyers, Jody Hunt and William Jordan, said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Atlanta criminal defense attorney Ed Garland, who is following the investigation, said Hutchinson’s testimony will help Fulton prosecutors establish criminal intent and lead to an indictment of Trump, who on Tuesday announced his candidacy for president.

“The evidence from Hutchinson is foundational in that it establishes knowledge on the part of Trump from which a jury will see he deliberately and knowingly engaged in criminal acts,” Garland said.

In testimony before the Select Committee, Hutchinson recounted conversations she had with her boss, then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, after Trump, Meadows and others called Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, 2021. During the call, Trump insisted he won Georgia by “hundreds of thousands of votes,” and he asked Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes, which was one more than was needed to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory here.

“I said, ‘Mark, you can’t possibly think we’re going to pull this off,’” Cassidy told the Select Committee. “And he looks at me and just started shaking his head. He was like, ‘No, Cass, you know, he knows it’s over. He knows he lost, but we’re going to keep trying.’”

Last month, a South Carolina judge ordered Meadows to testify before the special grand jury, although his lawyers have said they may appeal.

Hutchinson also told the Select Committee about what she heard Trump say in her presence.

Perhaps the most notable conversation occurred when she and Meadows were returning to their office after attending a Christmas party at the White House. Walking along the Rose Garden colonnade, she said they crossed paths with Trump, who was irate because the U.S. Supreme Court had just declined to hear an appeal of a lawsuit contesting the election.

“The president was just raging about the decision and how it’s wrong,” Hutchinson testified. Then Trump said “something to the effect of, I don’t want people to know we lost, Mark. This is embarrassing. Figure it out. We need to figure it out. I don’t want people to know that we lost.”

Hutchinson also said that, in mid-December, she asked Meadows if Trump really thought that he lost. “And he said, you know, a lot of times he’ll tell me that he lost, but he wants to keep fighting it,” Hutchinson testified.