Ex-White House official and Secret Service agent Tony Ornato, faced a grilling Tuesday from the Jan. 6 committee about former President Donald Trump’s demands to be taken to lead the storming of the Capitol.
Ornato was sure to be asked about the bombshell testimony of White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who testified that Ornato related that an irate Trump physically accosted another agent who refused to drive him to the Capitol as the violent attack unfolded.
There was no immediate word on what Ornato, known as a loyal supporter of Trump, may have told lawmakers on Tuesday.
Ornato, who later retired, was evasive about the crucial incident in two previous interviews with the committee and was a much less convincing witness than the poised and confident Hutchinson, lawmakers have said.
“There are some concerning things with the (Secret) Service and whether or not some of the members were not quite forthcoming with respect to what actually occurred,” Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee’s chairman, said.
“His memory does not appear to be as precise as hers,” committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren, (D-Calif.) said.
Hutchinson provided the biggest bombshell of the committee hearings when she testified on national TV about a conversation she had with Ornato at the White House on Jan. 6, 2021.
Quoting a senior Secret Service agent, Ornato said Trump lunged at an agent and tried to grab the steering wheel of the presidential SUV when they refused to let him go to the Capitol after a rally at the Ellipse.
“The president said something to the effect of, ‘I’m the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now,’” Hutchinson told lawmakers in the dramatic session last summer.
The account from Hutchinson about a physical altercation was disputed by Secret Service officials, although they resisted testifying under oath.
The officials do not dispute, however, that Trump angrily demanded to be taken to the Capitol to join a mob of thousands of his supporters who wanted to prevent Congress from certifying President Biden’s win in the 2020 election.
Lawmakers are also seeking Ornato’s testimony as they dig deeper into what the Secret Service knew about the attack on the Capitol, including text messages between agents that were inexplicably deleted during what agency officials claim was a pre-planned tech upgrade.
With News wire services