Which parts of Cassidy Hutchinson’s Jan. 6 testimony do Americans believe?

Linley SandersData Journalist
July 08, 2022, 3:05 PM GMT+0

Last week, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol. In her testimony, Hutchinson detailed the events she experienced and heard about around the January 6th attack, including alleged actions by former President Donald Trump and members of his administration.

In a poll conducted from June 28 - July 2, 2022, YouGov asked Americans which of Hutchinson’s revelations they heard about and whether they believed key elements of her testimony. Overall, Democrats appear to be paying closer attention to the hearings than Republicans: 85% of Democrats have heard about the hearings, compared to 67% of Republicans. When asked about Hutchinson’s specific claims, between 45% and 58% of Republicans said they had not heard about each element of her story. Between 18% to 32% of Democrats say the same about each one. Democrats are more likely to believe many of Hutchinson’s statements and have a more positive view of the former White House staffer.

Mark Meadows said “things might get real, real bad” on Jan 6

Hutchinson worked as an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and testified about several conversations she had with him around January 6. Recounting one, she said that Meadows told her days before the attack on the Capitol that “things might get real, real bad” on January 6. About three in five Americans (62%) heard this story, including 36% who believe it’s true, 16% who are unsure about its validity, and 10% who think it’s false. The rest (38%) said they heard nothing at all about it.

Trump wanted security measures removed before his “Stop the Steal” speech

In her testimony, Hutchinson said that Trump was frustrated about the small size of the crowd at the speech he would give during his January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally. Hutchinson recalled that Trump, after being told that some supporters would not be allowed through security magnetometers (also called “mags”) because they were carrying weapons, said something to the effect of, “You know, I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the f-ing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the f-ing mags away.”

YouGov asked all respondents about this scene, in two ways. One question included the quote that Hutchinson attributed to Trump, and the other showed a paraphrase of the story without the quotation: “President Trump was informed that attendees at a Jan. 6 rally near the White House were armed, but he wanted security removed from the area.” If more people said they believed the more general statement than the one that contained the purported quote, this would indicate that some respondents believed Hutchinson's overall claim even if they did not think the expletive-filled quote was accurate. But there was no significant difference between the two statements: 34% of Americans believe the quoted version, compared to 32% who believed the version without the quote. Republicans were similarly likely to say they have not heard about the story, or disbelieve it, regardless of how it was presented.

Trump lunged for the steering wheel in an effort to join protestors at the Capitol

Hutchinson recalled being told by former White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato that when Trump got into his car on January 6th, he wanted to be taken to the Capitol, where his supporters were marching. Upon being told by Secret Service that they were going to take him back to the West Wing, Trump allegedly became “irate” and tried to grab at the steering wheel of the vehicle. When he was stopped by his Secret Service agent from grabbing the wheel, Trump allegedly lunged at the officer, according to Hutchinson’s testimony.

Trump has denied that he lunged for the wheel of the car or attacked a Secret Service officer; Secret Service officials also have disputed that story. Other officials said that Trump wanted to personally join protesters at the Capitol but was prevented from doing so. This is another story YouGov asked about in two ways: Respondents were asked about the version where Trump attempted to grab the steering wheel as well as a more general description that didn't describe the supposed steering-wheel grab: “President Trump wanted to personally join protesters at the Capitol on Jan. 6 but was prevented from doing so.”

About three in five Americans (61%) heard the story about Trump attempting to grab control of the car, while 66% heard the more general version that Trump wanted to join protestors at the Capitol. Republicans are slightly more likely to believe that Trump wanted to personally join the Capitol protestors (15%) than that he tried to take control of his Secret Service vehicle (10%), but far more haven’t heard each of the claims or don’t believe them.

President Trump threw his lunch at the wall

Hutchinson claimed she helped clean up the dining room after Trump threw his lunch against the wall, resulting in ketchup dripping down the wall and a porcelain plate being shattered. The event happened after former Attorney General William Barr said in an interview with the Associated Press that the U.S. Justice Department had “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” The statement contradicted what Trump was saying at the time.

About half (52%) of Americans have heard this story, including 27% who believe it’s true, 11% who are unsure about whether it’s true, and 15% who think it’s false. The rest of Americans (48%) said they heard nothing at all about it.

— Taylor Orth and Carl Bialik contributed to this article

This poll was conducted on June 28 - July 2, 2022 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this YouGov poll.

Image: Brandon Bell/Getty Images