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FirstFT: Dramatic testimony sheds damning light on Donald Trump

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Cassidy Hutchinson, a 25-year-old junior former White House aide, yesterday delivered the most methodical inside account yet of Donald Trump’s mood, actions and intentions in the run-up to last year’s attack on the US Capitol.

In her testimony Hutchinson showed how Trump not only fuelled the mob and the attempted insurrection, but wanted to join it, disregarding the risk of violence.

In one of the most disturbing passages of testimony, Hutchison gave details of an altercation between the former president and a Secret Service agent named Robert Engel inside the presidential vehicle that was relayed to her by Tony Ornato, the deputy chief of staff and the liaison with the Secret Service.

Hutchinson testified that Trump had wanted to join the rioters as they moved to storm the halls of Congress and overturn the results of the 2020 election.

However, he was stopped by the Secret Service, according to Hutchinson, leading to an altercation inside the presidential vehicle in which Trump tried to grab the steering wheel.

“Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel,” the agent told the president as he tried to take control of the armoured black presidential SUV.

Trump was subsequently taken to the White House by security staff as the riot unfolded and was forced to watch the events on television.

Yesterday’s hearing was abruptly called by the committee investigating the January 6 riots. Hutchinson was an aide to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff. She had previously testified to the committee in private and parts of her deposition were aired during a hearing last week.

In a sign of his nervousness about Hutchinson’s testimony, Trump went on the attack on his Truth Social platform yesterday afternoon, accusing her of telling a “fake story” about the steering wheel and claiming she was known for being a “phoney” and a “leaker”.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Americas. Here’s the rest of today’s news — Gordon

1. Donald Trump-endorsed candidate clinches Republican nomination for Illinois governor Darren Bailey, a rightwing state senator, has won the Republican nomination for governor of Illinois, defeating Richard Irvin, mayor of Aurora, who was backed by Citadel chief executive Ken Griffin.

2. US to boost Europe military presence The US will establish a permanent headquarters for the US 5th Army Corps in Poland, Joe Biden said at the Nato summit in Madrid. It will also send 5,000 additional troops to Romania, two squadrons of F-35 fighter aircraft to the UK, air defence equipment to Italy and Germany, and two additional naval destroyers to Spain in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

3. Disney board renews chief executive Bob Chapek’s contract The board of Walt Disney voted unanimously to extend Bob Chapek’s contract as chief executive for three years, ending months of speculation over whether his contract would be renewed. Chapek has faced criticism from Disney’s LGBTQ employees and Republican politicians over his handling of a Florida law that critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay”.

4. EY agrees record $100mn US settlement over ethics exam cheating The Big Four auditing firm has agreed the highest fine imposed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission on an auditor. Gurbir Grewal, director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said in a statement: “It’s simply outrageous that the very professionals responsible for catching cheating by clients cheated on ethics exams of all things.”

5. Hedge fund manager Jim Chanos’s next ‘big short’ The short seller, best-known for predicting the collapse of energy group Enron two decades ago, is raising several hundred-million dollars for a fund that will take short positions in US-listed real estate investment trusts, he told the Financial Times.

The day ahead

Monetary policy Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell is speaking on an economic policy panel at the European Central Bank’s forum on central banking in Portugal. Cleveland Fed president Loretta Mester is also scheduled to speak at the forum and will join a panel discussion on the role of inflation expectations in monetary policymaking. St Louis Fed president James Bullard will deliver pre-recorded introductory remarks at a virtual community development event.

Economic data Revised figures for US economic growth in the first quarter are set for release, but economists polled by Refinitiv expect no change from the 1.5 per cent decline that was reported previously.

Earnings General Mills, the company behind Cheerios cereal and Häagen-Dazs ice cream, is forecast to report an increase in profit and revenue in the fourth financial quarter, as price increases are expected to boost earnings. Analysts forecast that General Mills’ fourth-quarter sales grew 6.2 per cent and earnings per share are expected to add 10 cents to $1.01. Home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond is also reporting today before the bell.

FT science editor Clive Cookson and global pharma correspondent Hannah Kuchler are answering readers’ questions all day on the new Covid-19 variants. Post your queries in the comments of this story and our reporters will respond to them throughout the day.

What else we’re reading and listening to

Ships going dark A new Financial Times investigation tracks vessels exporting food from Crimea, using commerce in the Black Sea to sidestep international sanctions against Russia — and potentially smuggle goods out of Ukraine. The shipments have become even more contentious after Ukrainian authorities claimed Crimean ports were being used to export grain looted from parts of the country occupied by Russian forces.

Open trade is at risk We have moved into a third epoch of the postwar global economic order, writes Martin Wolf. The first was in the context of the cold war. The second followed the fall of the Soviet Union. Now, in this era of disorder, we need to shore up the global commons — and less powerful countries must take the initiative.

The risk of a flip-flopping Fed Markets are changing their minds about US economic prospects as the Federal Reserve scrambles to catch up to developments on the ground. This risks another round of undue economic damage, volatility and greater inequality, writes Mohamed El-Erian.

China’s Marxism majors prosper amid labour market woes Chinese university graduates are struggling to find work in the country’s worst labour market in years — unless they have degrees in Marxism.

The billionaire who took down porn The biggest porn company in the world was transformed almost overnight by a hedge fund billionaire. It started with a scathing column about a popular porn site and an angry text to one of finance’s most powerful chief executives. The latest episode of the Hot Money podcast explores what happened next.


The aviation industry sometimes feels like one titanic struggle between the groups needed to get passengers to their destination safely. But underlying issues with take-off and landing slots are coming to the fore as carriers are forced to curb summer schedules, writes Helen Thomas.

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