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Anthony Ornato, a Key Jan. 6 Witness, to Speak With House Panel


WASHINGTON – Anthony M. Ornato, a former Secret Service agent and White House aide, is at the center of a controversy over conflicting accounts of President Donald J. Trump’s actions during the riots on Capitol Hill on June 6. January, is expected to be interviewed Tuesday before the House committee investigating the attack, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The committee sought to re-interview Mr Ornato for weeks as it delved deeper into Secret Service activities around the time of January 6, 2021, an area of ​​investigation that members believe is one of the most important final pieces of the investigation. unfinished business before the council completes the much-anticipated report on the attack.

Ornato, as White House deputy chief of staff, overseeing the logistics of the president’s outside operations, is key to a Dispute about events in a presidential SUV that day. Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, testified before lawmakers that Ornato told her Trump became angry and asked to join the crowd of his supporters at the Capitol.

Secret Service officials challenged several aspects of her account, and members of the panel accused Ornato of being dishonest with them in an earlier interview. Key new answers from Mr Ornato could help determine whether the dispute is a legitimate fight over Ms Hutchinson’s credibility or an attempt to stain the waters. her testimonyprovides a devastating account of Mr Trump’s actions on January 6.

Mr Ornato’s closed-door interview was scheduled a day after the panel questioned Kellyanne Conway, a former senior Trump adviser. Committee members were interested in a scene from Jonathan Lemire’s book “The Big Lie” in which Mr. Trump, using a profanity, asked Ms. Conway how he could lose to President Biden. .

The panel is compiling more evidence on how Mr Trump knew his claims about a stolen election were false as members discussed how best to present the findings from more than 1,000 their eyewitness interviews in a final report expected to be hundreds of pages long. The lawmakers also said they plan to release full transcripts of their interviews.

In recent weeks, the January 6 committee has interviewed a number of Secret Service officials, including Robert Engel, who was Trump’s top Secret Service agent on January 6, 2021, as well as the president’s driver in the motorcade.

“We have learned some additional information and at some point we plan to use it,” Representative Bennie Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and committee chair, said of the testimony of Mr. Engel.

In her public testimony, Ms. Hutchinson said she learned from Mr. Ornato about a stunning sight in the back of the presidential car on January 6, shortly after Mr. Trump’s speech at the Ellipse outside the House. White. She testified that Ornato told her Mr. Trump tried to force the Secret Service to bring him to the Capitol to join his supporters. In his recount, Ornato said Mr Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the armored vehicle.

Ms. Hutchinson also said Mr Ornato told her the president had “swooped in” on Mr. Engel. Mr. Engel, Ms. Hutchinson testified, was present when Mr. Ornato told her the story and did not correct Mr. Ornato’s account.

Secret Service officials said Mr. Ornato, Mr. Engel and the driver of the vehicle were willing to testify that certain details in that account were inaccurate. Officials did not dispute Mr. Trump’s angry demand to be taken to the Capitol, but they denied there was a fight.

Committee members have argued that they would have known little about Mr. Trump’s actions in the SUV without Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony. Representative Adam Kinzinger, Republic of Illinois and member of the committee, write on Twitter in June, “There seems to be a major thread here… Tony Ornato likes to lie.”

The commission obtained more than 1.5 million pages of documents and communications from the Secret Service in response to a subpoena. The communications show how Secret Service agents tried to find their way to the Capitol in an SUV and how those plans were ultimately rejected amid the chaos.

Initially, Secret Service agents tried to accommodate Mr. Trump’s wishes, but supervisors at the agency expressed concern and the District of Columbia police refused to block the intersection for Mr. his motorcade when a mob of his supporters began attacking and injuring dozens of policemen. according to the contact information, described by two people familiar with their content.

Mr. Engel broke the news to Mr. Trump in the car, making him extremely angry. A Secret Service supervisor then followed up to make sure Mr. Trump would not join the crowd at the Capitol, media reported.

Mr. Thompson said the panel had completed eight chapters of its report, which is likely to be released in December and is the subject of much internal debate about how much focus to focus on his actions. Trump versus security failures at the Capitol.

A subcommittee of four attorneys on the committee — Liz Cheney, Republic of Wyoming; Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland; Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California; and Adam B. Schiff, a California Democrat — are also investigating whether criminal records should be turned over to the Justice Department against Trump and some of his top allies.

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