Agent at center of Trump 'lunge' dispute returns to January 6 panel

Former Secret Service agent at center of Trump’s limo ‘lunge’ testimony to meet January 6 committee AGAIN today: Cassidy Hutchinson claims President ‘went for’ agent’s throat and ‘tried to grab the wheel’ before riot

  • Anthony Ornato returns to speak to the committee Tuesday
  • He headed Trump’s security detail before being named a deputy chief of staff
  • He featured prominently in testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson 
  • The House January 6 committee spoke with Secret Service officer Robert Engel for at least the second time this year
  • Engel was head of Trump’s security detail at the time of the Capitol riot
  • His alleged violent interaction with Trump was a central focus of former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson’s January 6 committee testimony
  • The committee is not expected to hold any more public hearings
  • A final report on its extensive findings is expected to come out this year 

Anthony Ornato, the high-level White House official who featured in dramatic testimony about former President Donald Trump’s conduct in his armored limo on January 6, is set to return to meet with the House January 6 panel Tuesday.

Ornato, who ran Trump’s security detail before Trump named him White House deputy chief of staff for operations, was a key figure in testimony by former Mark Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said she learned of a clash inside the ‘beast’ on January 6th.

Hutchinson told lawmakers that it is Ornato who told her the former president became furious when another agent, Robert Engel, told him he could not drive to the Capitol, where a crowd of MAGA supporters was waiting on the day of the Capitol riot.

He spoke previously to the committee, which secured a second appearance after negotiations that lasted weeks, the New York Times reported. 

The development comes as the panel prepares to wrap up its business – with the new Republican majority vowing to shut down the probe after it takes over next year.

Former White House deputy chief of staff Anthony Ornato, who used to run Donald Trump’s security detail, was set to meet with the House January 6 committee on Tuesday. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that he told her about an angry clash inside ‘the beast’ involving the former president

On Monday, the panel met with former White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway. 

She did not work in the White House on January 6th, 2021 but the Washington Post reported she called an aide who was with Trump that day and said she was joining others in urging the former president to tell his MAGA supporters to stand down. 

Hutchinson testified that Ornato told her that Trump ‘lunged’ at Engel when he was refusing to take Trump to the Capitol – a statement that drew pushback the agency, with people close to the Secret Service saying the event didn’t happen.

Ornato retired from the Secret Service in late August and moved to the private sector.

His appearance comes after Engel, the Secret Service agent who Trump  allegedly tried to assault on January 6, came before the select committee.

Lawmakers sat down with Robert Engel, sources told CNN, after he played a central role in the public testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.

The 25-year-old former assistant to then-chief of staff Mark Meadows testified that she was told Trump grew violent with Engel when the agent refused to drive him to the US Capitol with his supporters.

Engel had been head of Trump’s security detail at the time. 

Allies of the former president immediately cast doubt on Hutchinson’s account. Engel himself never publicly confirmed or denied it. 

He’s since left the Washington, DC area for a tamer job as head of the Secret Service field office in Tampa, reported over the summer.

Thursday’s reported meeting is his first time facing the committee since Hutchinson’s bombshell testimony in late June, though he did speak with the panel shortly before her hearing. has reached out to both the committee and the Secret Service for comment.

Robert Engel (seen walking alongside then-President Donald Trump in May 2019), was head of the former president’s security detail around the time the January 6 attack occurred 

He’s reportedly sat down with the January 6 committee for the first time since he was brought up in former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony back in June

Recalling what happened after she got back to the White House from Trump’s Stop The Steal rally on January 6, she recalled seeing Engel ‘looking somewhat discombobulated and a little lost.’

She said Tony Ornato, a former high-ranking Secret Service official who also served as Trump’s deputy chief of staff, told her: ‘Did you f***ing hear what happened in the Beast?’

‘The Beast’ refers to the armored vehicle that the president is escorted in.

‘Tony proceeded to tell me that when the president got in the Beast, he was under the impression from Mr. Meadows that the off the record movement to the Capitol was still possible and likely to happen, but that [Engel] had more information,’ Hutchinson said.

‘So, once the president had gotten into the vehicle with Bobby, he thought that they were going up to the Capitol.’

Hutchinson said Trump apparently had ‘a very strong, a very angry response’ to Engel shooting that plan down and telling him they’d be returning to the White House.

Hutchinson testified that she was told Trump lunged for the steering wheel and for Engel when the agent refused to drive him to the US Capitol along with the mob of his supporters who were marching there

‘The president said something to the effect of, I’m the f***ing president, take me up to the Capitol now,’ the former staffer said. ‘To which Bobby responded, sir, we have to go back to the West Wing.’

Next, Trump grabbed for the steering wheel, Hutchinson testified being told.

‘Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol,’ she said.

‘Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel. And Mr. – when Mr. Ornato had recounted this story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.’

The committee has said that it plans to release a final report on its findings, mostly centered on Trump, by the end of the year. 

It had what’s likely to be the panel’s final public hearing in late September. 

Three of its members are guaranteed not to be coming back to Congress next year, including both of its Republicans.

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