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Secret Service Agent Blocked Trump From Going To Capitol On Jan. 6: Driver

Secret Service Agent Blocked Trump From Going To Capitol On Jan. 6: Driver

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times ,

When then-President Donald Trump finished his speech on Jan. 6, 2021, he wanted to go to the U.S. Capitol.

Surrounded by campaign staff and members of the U.S. Secret Service, former U.S. President Donald Trump (C) waves to supporters as he visits the Iowa Pork Producers Tent at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 12, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

But a Secret Service agent blocked him from going, according to a newly disclosed account.

The president wanted to go to the Capitol,” the Secret Service agent who was driving the vehicle, told a U.S. House of Representatives panel.

President Trump and Robert Engel, his lead Secret Service agent, entered the SUV around 1:10 p.m. after President Trump concluded his speech, which was delivered on the Ellipse.

He asked Bob Engel if we could go to the Capitol and why couldn’t we go to the Capitol and was insistent on going to the Capitol,” the driver testified, adding later that the president “was pushing pretty hard to go.”

“Mr. Engel’s response was essentially to tell him that we didn’t have any people at the Capitol, we didn’t have a plan in place, and that we needed to essentially go back to the White House and assess what our options were and wait till we can get a plan in place before we went down there,” the driver added.

President Trump responded by saying he felt it would be fine because he was not concerned about the people at the Capitol, describing them as being his supporters, according to the driver, although the driver could not recall specifically what words the president used.

“Mr. Engel consistently had the same response, that we didn’t have a plan in place, we didn’t have people at the Capitol, and that we needed to go back to the White House and reassess,” the driver said, adding later that whether the crowd at the Capitol was comprised of supporters of President Trump “was immaterial.”

President Trump did not say anything like, “I’m the president, I’ll decide where I get to go or where I’m going,” the driver said, responding to a question from the panel.

The driver took President Trump and Mr. Engel to the White House, which is 1.2 miles from the Ellipse. By 1:25 p.m., President Trump was told about violence at the Capitol, according to a White House employee.

After arriving at the White House, the driver communicated what transpired to other agents and said they should stand by as a decision was made as to whether the president would at some point be taken to the Capitol.

The agents remained with the presidential vehicles until they were told they would not be going to the Capitol, according to the driver. The communication came within 15 minutes after Mr. Engel met with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows or Meadows’s deputy, the driver said. “My understanding was that … a decision came out of that meeting,” he said.

The driver was speaking on Nov. 7, 2022, to a House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021. The transcript was obtained and reviewed by The Epoch Times. The transcript was not released by the committee when it published online a final report and accompanying materials, including many transcripts, as it disbanded in late 2022.

The select committee also interviewed Mr. Engel, who could not be reached, but did not release a transcript of that interview. Portions of the interview, which have still not been disclosed, were quoted in the panel’s report.

The report says that President Trump entered the SUV after the Ellipse speech ended and “forcefully expressed his intention that Bobby Engel, the head of his Secret Service detail, direct the motorcade to the Capitol.” It does not mention who made the decision not to adhere to the request.

I said … ‘let’s go down to the Capitol and the Secret Service very nicely said, ’Sir, really better for you to go back to the White House, it really is, you know, we’re not prepared to go down there,’” President Trump said on a Just the News podcast this week. “And I understood that and it was no big argument.”

Former White House official Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified in public to the select committee, has claimed that President Trump grew irate after not being taken to the Capitol and lunged at the wheel of the vehicle. Both Mr. Engel, according to the select committee, and the driver, according to the transcript, refuted that claim.

Ms. Hutchinson, whose lawyer has not returned an inquiry, changed her testimony dramatically after testifying to the panel three times, according to a new House Republican report. She did not mention the alleged grabbing incident until her fourth interview. Mr. Engel and Mr. Meadows could not be reached. The Secret Service did not respond to a request for comment.

Word of Possible Trip

President Trump was not scheduled to go to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but some officials received word that he might go there, according to testimony.

Anthony Ornato, a Secret Service agent not on the scene, said in a recently released transcript that he was asked by officials if President Trump could walk to the Capitol after the speech on the Ellipse. He thought the idea was “ridiculous” and referred the officials to Mr. Engel.

An email from an agent to the driver and others on Jan. 5 said that President Trump planned to go to the Ellipse the following day. “There are also unconfirmed rumors of a move to the Capitol following the event on the Ellipse, but that will be an OTR if it happens,” the email stated, according to the select committee.

OTR stands for off-the-record movement, meaning the move would not be placed on the presidential schedule, according to the driver.

He said his superior did not inform him on Jan. 6 of any plans to take President Trump to the Capitol.

According to summaries released by House Republicans of testimony given by four White House employees to the select committee, several White House employees became aware of President Trump possibly going to the Capitol, although one said that both the Secret Service and Mr. Meadows told him such a trip was not happening. The White House employee transcripts were not released by the select committee and have not otherwise been disclosed.

The committee’s principal concern was that the President actually intended to participate personally in the January 6th efforts at the Capitol, leading the attempt to overturn the election either from inside the House Chamber, from a stage outside the Capitol, or otherwise. The committee regarded those facts as important because they are relevant to President Trump’s intent on January 6th. There is no question from all the evidence assembled that President Trump did have that intent,” according to the summary.

After President Trump arrived back at the White House, the president said “he wanted to physically walk and be a part of the march” to the Capitol, former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told the select committee. Mr. Meadows, according to Ms. Hutchinson, said President Trump was upset Mr. Engel did not arrange a Capitol trip, and that Mr. Meadows did not make plans for a trip official.

President Trump remained at the White House, where he watched events at the Capitol unfold on television. He later released a video showing him standing outside the White House and telling people to “go home.”

Thu, 03/14/2024 – 20:20

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