A Secret Service official who was cited in testimony for the partisan Jan. 6 congressional committee is leaving the agency.
Tony Ornato, an assistant director of the agency responsible for the president’s protection, has stepped down.
Ornato confirmed his resignation in a statement to CNN on Monday.
“I did retire today to pursue a career in the private sector. I retired from the U.S. Secret Service after more than 25 years of faithful service to my country, including serving the past five presidents,” the statement said.
“I long-planned to retire and have been planning this transition for more than a year.”
Ornato was thrust into the public eye after a former aide for President Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows cited him in her testimony before the House committee investigating the Capitol incursion of Jan. 6, 2021.
The aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, claimed Ornato told her that Trump became “irate” in a colorful account of events related to the day, according to NBC News.
Hutchinson, whose testimony has been widely disparaged by conservatives, indicated Ornato told her that Trump angrily lunged for the steering wheel inside the presidential limousine. According to the ex-Mark Meadows aide, Trump was demanding to be taken to the Capitol after a morning speech at the White House Ellipse.
A source close to Ornato later pushed back against the claims that Hutchinson had made in the hearing, according to Fox News.
The Secret Service agent was reportedly “shocked” to find himself cited as a witness of claims he denies making.
Another Secret Service source has also indicated that an agent in the presidential limousine, Bobby Engel, is willing to testify against the claim that Trump lunged for the wheel.
Both Engel and Ornato have reportedly testified in private to the Jan. 6 committee since its inception, according to Fox. Ornato has testified twice, according to CNN, once in January, once in March.
Neither of the Secret Service agents described Trump lunging over the presidential limousine driver in an attempt to grab the steering wheel in their testimony, according to Fox.
The testimony of the Secret Service agents has not been released to the public. It’s not publicly known if they were asked about any altercation over the vehicle’s steering wheel vehicle and contradicted Hutchinson’s story, or if they were simply never asked about it at all.
NBC reported a source it did not identify saying the men were not asked.
The driver of the presidential limousine reportedly indicated a willingness to testify under oath against Hutchinson’s claims as recently as the end of June.
? A source close to the Secret Service tells me both Bobby Engel, the lead agent, and the presidential limousine/SUV driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Mr. Trump never lunged for the steering wheel.
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) June 28, 2022
The driver has not been identified.
Ornato’s departure from the Secret Service comes just after a senior FBI agent of the Washington field office was reportedly forced to resign under pressure.
According to agency whistleblowers, Timothy Thibault blocked an FBI inquiry into Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election.
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