Secret Service official at center of testimony about Trump’s Jan. 6 actions retires

Tony Ornato, the top Secret Service official who broke with agency precedent to serve as a political adviser under former President Donald Trump’s administration and who was at the center of the former House aide’s testimony Blanche Cassidy Hutchinson on Trump’s Jan. 6 actions, announced his retirement Monday.

The 25-year veteran of federal law enforcement who served under five presidents became eligible for retirement earlier this year and is leaving the agency in “good standing”, according to a Secret Service official. His departure from his position as head of training was announced within the American secret service on Monday afternoon. This follows the announcement of President Biden’s next choice to lead the agency: Kim Cheatle.

Ornato came under scrutiny from the Jan. 6 House Select Committee after Hutchinson, who was a top aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified to his conversations with Ornato, who was deputy White House chief of staff to Trump when the attack on the United States Capitol took place.

Anthony Ornato, former Deputy Director of the United States Secret Service Training Office.

Government photo

Hutchinson testified before the committee that she had met with Ornato and Robert Engel, the Secret Service special agent in charge on January 6, shortly after Trump returned from his White House address. According to Hutchinson, during that meeting, Ornato let him know that the president got “angry” on the car ride to the White House when he was told he couldn’t make it to the Capitol. He said something like, “‘I’m the fucking president, take me to the Capitol now,'” Hutchinson recalled.

Quoting Ornato again, she also said that when told he had to return to the West Wing, Trump reached out to the front of the vehicle to grab the steering wheel, prompting Engel to grab her arm.

The president then used his free hand to lunge at Engel, she said, noting that Ornato “beckoned to his collarbones” as he described the incident. Hutchinson added that at the time, Engel did not correct or disagree with any part of what Ornato said.

But the US Secret Service pushed back against Hutchinson’s account, signaling that Ornato and Engel would be willing to testify in response to Hutchinson’s sworn testimony, although neither has appeared before the select committee since, according to three sources. informed on the matter.

A spokesperson for the agency said Ornato had been “continuously made available” to the committee and confirmed that the now private citizen had retained legal representation.

Last month, current director James Murray announced his retirement after three years at the helm of the agency, but postponed his departure amid several agency-wide investigations into Text messages apparently deleted.

Murray’s retirement comes amid an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s top watchdog into the deletion of thousands of text messages by US Secret Service officials.

Last month, the House Jan. 6 Select Committee subpoenaed text messages from two dozen Secret Service agents, including Ornato, who were apparently wiped during an enterprise-wide technology migration. agency, despite requests for preservation from investigators and Congress. House panel staff said they only received one text resulting from the July 15 subpoena to the agency requesting its January 5 and 6, 2021 text messages.

Ornato told colleagues he was leaving the agency “to pursue a career in the private sector.”

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