Was It Possible For Trump To Take The Wheel?

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
This is a partial transcript from the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack public hearing on June 28.

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: When I returned to the White House, I walked upstairs towards the chief of staff's office, and I noticed Mr. Ornato lingering outside of the office. Once we had made eye contact, he quickly waved me to go into his office, which was just across the hall from mine. When I went in, he shut the door, and I noticed Bobby Engel, who was the head of Mr. Trump's security detail, sitting in a chair, just looking somewhat discombobulated and a little lost.

I looked at Tony and he had said, did you f'ing hear what happened in the beast? I said, no, Tony, I — I just got back. What happened? Tony proceeded to tell me that when the president got in the beast, he was under the impression from Mr. Meadows that the off the record movement to the Capitol was still possible and likely to happen, but that Bobby had more information.

So, once the president had gotten into the vehicle with Bobby, he thought that they were going up to the Capitol. And when Bobby had relayed to him we're not, we don't have the assets to do it, it's not secure, we're going back to the West Wing, the president had a very strong, a very angry response to that.

Tony described him as being irate. The president said something to the effect of I'm the f'ing president, take me up to the Capitol now, to which Bobby responded, sir, we have to go back to the West Wing. 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. Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel. And Mr. — when Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.

LIZ CHENEY: And was Mr. Engel in the room as Mr. Ornato told you this story?

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: He was.

LIZ CHENEY: Did Mr. Engel correct or disagree with any part of this story from Mr. Ornato?

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Mr. Engel did not correct or disagree with any part of the story.

LIZ CHENEY: Did Mr. Engel or Mr. Ornato ever after that tell you that what Mr. Ornato had just said was untrue?

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: Neither Mr. Ornato nor Mr. Engel told me ever that it was untrue.


There has been a lot of speculation on social media that the actions described by Hutchinson are physically impossible.

Typical comments are:

"Trump was in the front seat? C'mon."

"Trump broke through the glass partition"?


This photo is often reproduced.
FWXC50-XoAE-NVG.jpg
I think it would be possible to take the wheel even in this vehicle - The Beast. It just depends how much motivation you had. And the partition is no problem. The text in the upper left hand bubble says, ... glass partition - only Trump has a switch to lower it.


However, it's the wrong car. During the hearing, the correct car was shown. It's an armored Chevrolet Suburban called The Bunker.
limo.png
It would seem that Trump is visible in the right middle seat. No one is visible in the right passenger seat, but that could be deceptive. There might be someone there we can't see.

Playable video



Clearer photo of Trump in The Bunker from October of 2020. Sitting in right middle seat.
90762338-58a9-4be8-8505-df4442a1c56d.jpg


I can't find a photo of the interior of The Bunker. But this is the interior of a stock 2019 Chevrolet Suburban.
cef247c1418b3c145d94bca530ab3069 (1).jpg

int_H4X_deg02.jpg

That's the best I can do so far. But there doesn't seem to be any serious impediment to a large man leaving the middle right seat and reaching to grab the steering wheel. It's unclear where Bobby Engel was sitting.
 
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jarlrmai

Senior Member
It seems to me that there would likely not be a built in impediment to getting between the front/rear seats, likely the car is not designed to protect the driver from the occupants like a taxi cab, it's designed to protect the occupants from outside threats.

Surely its optimal that people from the rear of the car can get to the front and vice versa in case a driver swap is needed or the president etc needs to be physically protected or requires medical attention from the front etc.

Maybe there is some more generic armoured/'presidential' car documents around?
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
Worth noting that Ms. Hutchinson's testimony on this point is testimony to what she was told, not to what she witnessed herself, as happened at other points in her testimony. She may (or of course, may not) be absolutely accurate in recounting what she was told, regardless of what actually happened in the vehicle.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Worth noting that Ms. Hutchinson's testimony on this point is testimony to what she was told, not to what she witnessed herself, as happened at other points in her testimony. She may (or of course, may not) be absolutely accurate in recounting what she was told, regardless of what actually happened in the vehicle.
Yes. This isn't a criminal trial, so hearsay is admissible.

Common sense suggests to me that the agents had no motivation to mislead Ms. Hutchinson.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member


This is a recreation in a Chevy Tahoe, which has the same layout as the Suburban, but with a smaller cargo space. It's assuming there's no partition blocking. And being a modified version the middle row seats might be further back - but that does not really change things, as you are out of your seat at that point.

When you are tall (I'm 6'2", Trump is reportedly 6'3") things are much more within reach.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
However, it's the wrong car. During the hearing, the correct car was shown. It's an armored Chevrolet Suburban called The Bunker.

but the testimony says the beast
[I looked at Tony and he had said, did you f'ing hear what happened in the beast? I said, no, Tony, I — I just got back. What happened? Tony proceeded to tell me that when the president got in the beast, ]

who is TOny? is he someone who would know the name of cars? (me, for example, i would use beast and bunker interchangeably)
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
ah. we'll just wait till Ornato tells us, if:
1. this reporting is correct (iffy, it's CNN and WP)
2. He's allowed to

Article:
Senior Secret Service agents are reportedly prepared to testify that Donald Trump did not lunge for the wheel of his vehicle or physically attack the chief of his security detail after his speech near the White House on January 6 – as a former aide said he did in sworn testimony on Tuesday.
....

CNN and other outlets reported the pushback on the alleged Secret Service incident from Tony Ornato, who was also a deputy chief of staff in the Trump White House, and Robert Engel, who was Trump’s security chief.


Article:
Secret Service officials: Agents willing to dispute Trump SUV incident under oath
Newsroom

Officials from the US Secret Service have announced that Tony Ornato and Bobby Engel, the agents named in Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, are willing to testify before the Jan. 6 committee and dispute Hutchinson's account of an alleged incident involving then-President Trump. CNN's Josh Campbell has more.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
i would use beast and bunker interchangeably
Yeah, I'd probably refer to the armored car that the President was in as "The Beast." I've never even heard of "The Bunker" before.

who is TOny?
White House deputy chief of staff for operations Tony Ornato. So maybe you'd expect him to know.

I feel like there will be more clarity on this story when other people testify. It might well be a tale that grew in the telling.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
So maybe you'd expect him to know.
yea the CNN guy in the vid in my link just above you, says Onato wasnt even in the car. (as far as him possibly getting the car name wrong) ..although watching the vid on cspan, i dont see any limo looking things there that day.. not that it matters, but maybe he wasnt there that day at that location)
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
This is a partial transcript from the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack public hearing on June 28.

[excerpted] "The president reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel"

There has been a lot of speculation on social media that the actions described by Hutchinson are physically impossible.

Typical comments are:

"Trump was in the front seat? C'mon."

That's the weird thing - "reached up towards the front" says "sitting behind" to me. Could it be that commenters on the internet are misguided?
 

Ann K

Active Member
Newsweek has a video that shows the car departing, in which (although the windows are very heavily tinted) Trump can briefly be seen in what appears to be wild gesticulation. Specific details are not visible, but it looks as if the answer to "could he reach" is certainly "yes, if he came out of his seat".
https://www.newsweek.com/donald-tru...anuary-6-committee-cassidy-hutchinson-1720126

Sorry, I'm not on Twitter and I don't know how to select and post a specific video.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member

Footage from 2020 (Source: MSNBC)

2022-06-30_08-45-01.jpg


2022-06-30_08-46-41.jpg
A very similar car, possibly the same (Number plane is 800-002). Shows that the seating configuration is pretty much standard, and there's no visible bulkhead, with a clear path to the steering wheel.

I think, as others have mentioned, that the precise details are a bit of a distraction.
 
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.


This is a recreation in a Chevy Tahoe, which has the same layout as the Suburban, but with a smaller cargo space. It's assuming there's no partition blocking. And being a modified version the middle row seats might be further back - but that does not really change things, as you are out of your seat at that point.

When you are tall (I'm 6'2", Trump is reportedly 6'3") things are much more within reach.


This is the next challenge: Trump's obesity would make it highly unlikely that he would be able to reach the steering wheel.

https://www.businessinsider.com/don...t-service-cassidy-hutchinson-january-6-2022-6
Former President Donald Trump would have had to squeeze through an "extremely tight" space to be able to grab the steering wheel of his SUV and lunge at a Secret Service agent, as former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified Tuesday.

It's not impossible, one former Secret Service agent said, but it's not likely for the 6-foot-3, nearly 250-pound Trump, who the agent noted is also "not the most agile human being."

"Trump's not a little guy, right? And the space to actually be able to lunge towards the wheel is not that big," the former agent said, speaking on background to Insider. "I don't mean to sound disparaging to the former president, but just his girth would prevent him from actually getting to the steering wheel."

You might have to find a friend or neighbor of the right size to do another test.
 
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
There's a question that should be asked about Hutchinson's testimony. Did she herself misunderstand the eyewitness description of the incident given to her by Anthony Ornato?

Did Ornato say that Trump actually made contact with the wheel? Or did he say there was a physical altercation as he attempted to make his way to the wheel?
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
Another issue: It's being emphasized that Hutchinson's testimony was given under oath. But no one seems to be taking into account the fragility of human memory.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
ps. if anyone here is ever kidnapped by the Secret Service.. grabbing the steering wheel isnt going to help your cause. if you want them to stop the car and listen to you, open your door an inch.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
Compare the visibility of the occupant of the front passenger seat in this video with that in the January motorcade video.



At no time is the front passenger seat occupant even partially visible.

It's unlikely that there was no one in the front passenger seat. So why is no one visible? Could this mean that he was leaning to his left?
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
Isn't that just an Internet rumor?
i guess that's possible since i dont really trust MSM, who keep using phrase like "engel who was in the vehicle". and the CNN inflection of this (video) sounds like Ornato was not in the vehicle. but that is my take, not confirmed. Fox News states outright Ornato was not in the vehicle, but despite what some might think i dont blindly believe anything i read on Fox News. :)

but i personally think her testimony confirms Ornato was not at the ellipse with them (her and Trump)


CNN vid:


an official with the secret service told me...

1:45 ornato denies briefing her on this, telling her that this transpired..
1:50 the lead secret service agent [engel], who was inside the vehicle, denies that this incident ever occured.
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fu3z_Bebbt8



Article:
Ornato and Bobby Engel, a Secret Service agent who at the time headed Trump’s security detail and was in the vehicle, are willing to testify under oath that the description the committee heard isn’t correct, the person said.



Article:
Fox News article: Both Bobby Engel, the top agent on Trump's Secret Service detail who was in the car, and Ornato, who was not in the car, testified to the January 6 Committee in private over the past year, the source close to Ornato said.





and in her own testimony
transcript here:
she is continuously talking about calling and texting Ornato while she was at the ellipse with Trump. so Ornato was seemingly not there.
a little blip so you have a general idea where in the transcript to look. (it's long)
Article:
CASSIDY HUTCHINSON: I had two or three phone conversations with Mr. Ornato when we were at the ellipse
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
2022-06-30_11-29-26.jpg

As the car passes this white pillar, you can see through Trump's window to the pillar, and the driver-side mirror. Hard to say much about the interior layout though.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
2022-06-30_11-55-28.jpg
2022-06-30_12-03-53.jpg2022-06-30_12-09-28.jpg
Presidential "Bunker" Suburban. The interior seems very fairly standard Suburban layout, no partition.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
but htis table here would make it super easy to lean on with one hand and reach to the wheel (of course the testimony is he had one hand on the wheel and the other assaulting engle, which would likely topple him)

1656617858989.png
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
2022-06-30_11-29-26.jpg
As the car passes this white pillar, you can see through Trump's window to the pillar, and the driver-side mirror. Hard to say much about the interior layout though.
There is a lot of foreshortening from the telescopic lens.

The bowed bars on the roof go straight across; the fact that we can see do much of their length means the vehicle is at a considerable angle. If we really saw it side-on, they should appear very short.
2022-06-30_11-29-26.jpg
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
There is a lot of foreshortening from the telescopic lens.

The bowed bars on the roof go straight across; the fact that we can see do much of their length means the vehicle is at a considerable angle. If we really saw it side-on, they should appear very short.
2022-06-30_11-29-26.jpg

I've got screenshots from both the January 6 motorcade and the October 2020 motorcade.



October 2020
vlcsnap-2022-06-30-17h15m25s652.png


vlcsnap-2022-06-30-17h16m29s917.png

vlcsnap-2022-06-30-17h16m33s395.png


Jan. 6

The Bunker just coming into frame on left.
Bunker 1.png

No one visible in passenger window.
Bunker 3.png

But this is all too ambiguous to pursue, especially as we have no idea where the incident was supposed to have happened. Maybe new footage will emerge.

Could there be security camera footage from inside The Bunker?
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.

Footage from 2020 (Source: MSNBC)

2022-06-30_08-45-01.jpg


2022-06-30_08-46-41.jpg
A very similar car, possibly the same (Number plane is 800-002). Shows that the seating configuration is pretty much standard, and there's no visible bulkhead, with a clear path to the steering wheel.

I think, as others have mentioned, that the precise details are a bit of a distraction.
License plate on The Bunker on Jan. 6
Bunker License B.png

Frustrating. But it could be 800 002. The last number is clearly 2.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
I've got screenshots from both the January 6 motorcade and the October 2020 motorcade.

October 2020
vlcsnap-2022-06-30-17h15m25s652.pngvlcsnap-2022-06-30-17h16m29s917.png
Note that this is not a long distance shot, so we have other perspective clues in the pictures that are lacking in the 1/6/21 video.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Frustrating. But it could be 800 002. The last number is clearly 2.
there are people in the crowd recording his departure on their phones, if you want to dig around. the RSBnetwork has footage of that time period (elton john's tiny dancer playing) from a slightly different location, but unfortunately they were filming the crowd and didnt turn around to film his departure. but other networks might have been filming that day and got footage. (if you want to confirm a guy in the passenger seat).
 

Ann K

Active Member
CNN is reporting that stories about the "wheel-grab" incident have been circulating among the agents since it happened, although the details vary.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/01/politics/secret-service-lunging-incident/index.html

Like Hutchinson, one source, a longtime Secret Service employee, told CNN that the agents relaying the story described Trump as "demanding" and that the former President said something similar to: "I'm the f**king President of the United States, you can't tell me what to do." The source said he originally heard that kind of language was used shortly after the incident.

"He had sort of lunged forward -- it was unclear from the conversations I had that he actually made physical contact, but he might have. I don't know," the source said. "Nobody said Trump assaulted him; they said he tried to lunge over the seat -- for what reason, nobody had any idea."
The employee said he'd heard about the incident multiple times as far back as February 2021 from other agents, including some who were part of the presidential protective detail during that time period but none of whom were involved in the incident.
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