- Rep. Adam Kinzinger accused former Secret Service agent Tony Ornato of trying to discredit Cassidy Hutchinson.
- The Republican told CNN this week that members of the Jan. 6 panel believe Ornato led the charge.
- Ornato retired in August — two months after he emerged as a key figure in Hutchinson’s testimony.
Members of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot believe former Secret Service agent Tony Ornato was personally involved in efforts to discredit former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, according to a report from CNN.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of two Republican members of Congress on the committee, told the outlet this week that representatives on the panel think Ornato led the charge in contradicting parts of Hutchinson’s public testimony earlier this year while he was still at the agency and additional, unnamed agents then backed his claims.
The longtime Secret Service agent who ran former President Donald Trump’s security detail left the agency last month, saying in a statement that he retired in order to pursue a career in the private sector.
Ornato emerged as a key figure in Hutchinson’s bombshell testimony before the committee in June.
Hutchinson testified that Ornato told her Trump had tried to grab the steering wheel of the vehicle he was traveling in and lunged at a Secret Service agent while demanding to be taken to the Capitol during the chaos of January 6, 2021, as he said, “I’m the effing president!”
In the aftermath of Hutchinson’s testimony, anonymous sources began to reject her version of events in the press. Several media outlets reported that Secret Service agents were willing to testify that Trump did not try to lunge at them or take control of the vehicle on January 6 — though none have done so publicly.
Now, Kinzinger is accusing Ornato of being one of the anonymous culprits behind the backlash.
“I just think it’s so important to keep in mind that, through quote, anonymous sources, which we believe to be actually Tony Ornato himself, he pushed back against Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony and said, it’s just not true and Tony will testify under oath. And then, of course, has not come in to testify under oath,” the Republican told CNN.
Kate Driscoll, a lawyer for Ornato did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, but told CNN that her client plans to “continue cooperating in the investigations related to the events of January 6.”
In response to pushback against Hutchinson’s initial testimony, Rep. Liz Cheney, who is the top Republican on the January 6 panel, threw her full support behind Hutchinson and a DC police officer later backed up her claims, testifying that Trump had a “heated exchange” with his security team after they refused to drive him to the Capitol amid the insurrection.
CNN reported this week that investigators have also learned new information about a series of deleted Secret Service test messages regarding the Capitol attack, citing anonymous sources who said it’s unclear whether the texts are recoverable.
A spokesperson with the Secret Service pointed Insider to the agency’s June 30th statement in response to Hutchinson’s testimony:
“As we have done in the past, the United States Secret Service will make individuals with first-hand knowledge of the conversations and interactions referenced by the Committee available for sworn testimony. We are awaiting the opportunity to do so.”