WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said on Friday he does not remember urging then-White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson to prevent Donald Trump from coming to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, despite her sworn testimony to the contrary.
Hutchinson – the star witness in a televised hearing before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on Congress by Trump supporters – testified under oath that a “frustrated and angry” McCarthy called her that day after President Trump announced at a nearby rally that he would join in a march to the Capitol.
“Mr. McCarthy called me with this information,” Hutchinson told the panel on June 28. “I was confused, because I didn’t know what the president had just said. … He (McCarthy) said, ‘Well, he just said it on stage, Cassidy. Figure it out. Don’t come up here’.” She also said McCarthy had been in touch with her about Trump’s plans in the days leading up to the attack.
But McCarthy insisted on Friday that he had no recollection of talking to Hutchinson, at the time an aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
“I don’t recall talking to her that day,” McCarthy said at a news conference. “I don’t remember having any conversations with her about the president coming to the Capitol.”
McCarthy said he did not watch Trump’s speech ahead of the attack on the Capitol and that he did not know Trump said he would join his supporters in marching there.
A committee spokesman declined to comment.
The panel is investigating Trump’s role in the attack, which occurred as the House and Senate worked to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory.
Trump did not join his supporters in the end, saying the Secret Service prevented him from accompanying them. But the committee has presented evidence that the mob was animated by his repeated false claims that the election was stolen through massive voter fraud.
Days after the June hearing, McCarthy dismissed Hutchinson’s testimony as “hearsay.” He maintains the panel is conducting a partisan investigation.
McCarthy said he instead called then-Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner in an effort to locate the president on Jan. 6.
(Reporting by Rose Horowitch and David Morgan; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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