Jan. 6 committee to interview former Trump Secret Service agent Tony Ornato

Ornato might deny Trump lunged at the SUV wheel, sources said.

November 29, 2022, 11:03 AM

Former White House deputy chief of staff for operations and top Secret Service official Tony Ornato was expected to meet with the the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack on Tuesday, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

This will be the first time the committee has spoken to Ornato since White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson recounted in dramatic testimony during a committee hearing in June how Ornato told her former President Donald Trump had a physical confrontation with his Secret Service detail in the president’s vehicle on Jan. 6.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks during a "Save America Rally" near the White House, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
President Donald Trump speaks during a "Save America Rally" near the White House, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
Bloomberg via Getty Images, Files

Hutchinson told the committee in live testimony Ornato told her Trump was "irate" after being told he couldn't join his supporters at the Capitol, going so far as to try to grab the steering wheel of the SUV and lunging towards Bobby Engel, who was the head of Trump's Secret Service detail.

Hutchinson maintains that while she was not in the SUV at the time, she heard the account from Ornato when everyone was back at the White House after his rally at the Ellipse. Hutchinson told the committee Engel was in the room as Ornato told the story, and that Ornato motioned toward his clavicles as he was talking about the purported lunge toward Engel.

PHOTO: Anthony Ornato, Assistant Director, Office of Training for the United States Secret Service attends a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump, Oct. 31, 2020, in Newtown, Pa.
Anthony Ornato, Assistant Director, Office of Training for the United States Secret Service attends a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump, Oct. 31, 2020, in Newtown, Pa.
Tom Brenner/Reuters

"Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge toward Bobby Engel and when Mr. Ornato recounted this story to me, he motioned toward his clavicles," Hutchinson testified she was told.

Hutchinson said that Engel didn't deny the story as Ornato recounted it in her presence.

The committee has wanted to question Ornato since Hutchinson’s testimony this summer, sources said, and will do so on Tuesday behind closed doors. Ornato, who has since retired, could deny Trump lunged at the wheel, sources said.

The committee has been interviewing Secret Service officials over the past few weeks, according to sources. While officials may not be corroborating the lunge at the steering wheel, the agents the committee has interviewed have confirmed the main point -- that Trump was irate and wanted to go to the Capitol.

Ornato’s interview is scheduled a day after the panel questioned Kellyanne Conway, a former senior adviser to Trump.

The New York Times was first to report on Ornato’s expected testimony.

ABC News' Isabella Murray contributed to this report.

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