Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that he was “concerned” that the Jan. 6 designated commission had “goed past” an alleged incident involving former President Donald Trump in a car.
Johnson, who served in the Obama administration, called the commission’s hearings “a picture in bravery among women” and praised the hearing for being “extremely well-designed for the attention span of the average American in 2022.”
However, it is added“I’m concerned as the former federal prosecutor in me – and that gives you a lot of credibility these days on TV – I am concerned that the commission may have exaggerated the car crash.”
Johnson was referring to the testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, in which she told a story alleging that Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of his SUV and rushed toward a Secret Service agent trying to join his supporters at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Johnson said of the story: “They were colourful, they were vivid, they were secondary to the central charge…and they were hearsay.”
Trump himself denied the story, and shortly after Hutchinson’s testimony, several news outlets reported that former White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Secret Service agent Tony Ornato denied it ever happened and would be willing to testify under oath to that effect.
Johnson said he would have gone to the source of the story to check it out before it was published.
Maybe the committee knows something the rest of us don’t. But before I go out with second-hand hearsay, which will get a lot of attention, I’d like to know what a direct witness has to say.”
Meet the Press host Chuck Todd added that Hutchinson’s retelling of the story was actually a “third-party account.”
“I think by the time you told us the story was technically, we’re in our third edition. It’s a third-party account,” he said.
“It depends on how the rumors are interpreted. But, you know, this testimony was not acceptable in the courtroom,” Johnson added.
And as you know, intelligence agents usually don’t talk about what they see and what they hear from their protection. I was a protector of intelligence for three years. And they have to be in a position to hear and see all sorts of very sensitive things,” he said, casting doubt on Hutchinson’s testimony.