Robert “Bobby” Engel, the head of then-president Donald Trump’s Secret Service detail, was discussed in Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony today at the House select committee’s hearing on the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Hutchinson was an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows who entered the national spotlight during the June 28 hearing. The committee said the hearing was scheduled “to present recently obtained evidence and receive witness testimony.” The committee had initially planned to take a brief hiatus until the week of July 11.
The June 28 hearing was the sixth the committee held to present evidence surrounding the U.S. Capitol insurrection. The most recent hearing was held June 23, when the committee presented evidence that Trump placed pressure on the U.S. Department of Justice to help him overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Engel Is a Medal of Valor Board Member for the DOJ
Engel is a member for the Bureau of Justice Assistance U.S. Department of Justice Medal of Valor Review Board. He is listed as a law enforcement appointee by presidential appointment published June 25, 2021.
“On January 14, 2002, the Charter for the Medal of Valor Review Board was signed by the Attorney General. As required by the legislation, the eleven-member board was appointed by the President, the Majority and Minority Leaders of the U.S. Senate, and the Speaker and the Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives,” the page says. “The board, which comprises representatives of the public safety community and the general public, reviews the nominations and recommends individuals for recognition.”
Engel is listed as the United States Secret Service Special Agent in Charge.
2. Hutchinson Testified Trump Tried to Grab the Steering Wheel From Engel When the Agent Was Driving Him Back to the White House
Hutchinson said in her testimony that Trump reacted to information that protesters had weapons by saying that he did not care.
Hutchinson testified that before Trump took the stage at the Ellipse rally that day, he urged his Secret Service detail to remove security magnometers and to let in people with weapons.
“I overheard the president say something to the effect of ‘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.”
Hutchinson testified that Trump was enraged that Engel was driving him back to the White House after his “Stop the Steal” rally, where he told protesters to “fight like hell.” She said Trump lunged for the steering wheel to grab it from Engel.
“I’m the effing president,” Hutchinson heard Trump say, according to her testimony.
“Cassidy Hutchinson also testified to the Jan. 6 select panel that Trump intended to travel with his supporters at the rally to the Capitol, a progression that quickly became a violent mob,” Politico reported on June 28. “She also recalled hearing from two security officials — including Robert Engel, the head of the then-president’s Secret Service detail — that when Trump was told he’d be returning to the White House instead of going to the Capitol on Jan. 6, he lunged for the steering wheel of his vehicle and was physically restrained by Engel.”
Hutchinson further said that when Meadows learned about violence at the Capitol, he “almost had a lack of reaction.”
3. Trump Was ‘Irate’ When Engel Told Trump He Could Not Join Protesters at the Capitol
Hutchinson testified that Trump was “irate” when Engel told him he must return to the White House instead of joining protesters at the U.S. Capitol following his speech on the Ellipse. The aide’s testimony was based on a conversation with then-Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornato.
“The president had a very strong, a very angry response to that,” Hutchinson testified. “Tony described him as being irate. The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the f****** president, take me up to the Capitol now.’”
“[Engel] said, ‘Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing,’” Hutchinson continued. “The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel, we’re going back to the West Wing, we’re not going to the Capitol.’”
“Trump then used his free hand to lunge at Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson testified.
She testified that neither Engel nor Ornato disputed the account.
4. Engel Told January 6 Committee Investigators About Trump’s Desire to Go to the Capitol
Engel provided testimony to select committee investigators about Trump’s wishes to go to the U.S. Capitol that day, according to a June 8 story by Politico. Engel told the investigators he rode with Trump that day in the presidential armored car, “The Beast,” after the Ellipse rally and before the riot, the news outlet reported.
Politico reported that Trump asked Engel privately about joining protesters at the U.S. Capitol.
Engel opposed the request, Politico reported, saying it would not be feasible. The Washington Post reported on June 28 that Engel could be subpoenaed for public testimony.
5. Social Media Users Reacted to Testimony That Trump Allegedly Lunged at Engel
Social media users reacted swiftly to testimony saying Trump lunged at his own Secret Service detail.
“Trump lunged at the throat of Robert Engle!” one person wrote on Twitter. This should be the end of Donald Trump!!! FOREVER!!!!!!”
“I want Robert Engle to testify just so we can get all the details about Trump lunging at him,” another person wrote on Twitter.
“Secret Service Robert Engel should come forward and testify publicly,” another person wrote on Twitter. “We want to hear from him.”