The House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, met with former White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato on two occasions in January and March as part of its investigation, according to a source familiar with his testimony.
Among the topics Ornato discussed with the committee, the source said, were then-President Donald Trump’s knowledge of then-Vice President Mike Pence’s whereabouts during the attack on the US Capitol and whether Trump could have done more to encourage the rioters to calm down and leave the building.
Ornato’s answers to those questions and more have not been revealed by the committee. The details of some parts of the depositions were first reported by Politico.
There has been an increased focus on Ornato after former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified at a committee hearing earlier this week that he had told her about Trump lashing out in anger and lunging at a member of his protective detail as he demanded to be taken to the Capitol on January 6.
A Secret Service official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told CNN that Ornato denies telling Hutchinson that the former President grabbed the steering wheel of his presidential SUV or an agent on his detail.
The official said the Secret Service has notified the committee that both Ornato and Bobby Engel, who was the agent in the car with Trump during the alleged incident, will be made available to testify again under oath.
A spokesperson for the select committee declined to comment on Ornato’s interviews with the panel.
Members of the committee have expressed frustration with aspects of Ornato’s previous testimony, and some have suggested he lacks credibility.
Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democratic member of the committee, told NBC that Ornato was evasive with the committee about the incident in question.
“Ornato did not have as clear of memories from this period of time as I would say Ms. Hutchinson did,” she said.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who also serves on the panel, pointed to other former White House staffers claiming Ornato lied about their interactions with him.
“There seems to be a major thread here… Tony Ornato likes to lie,” Kinzinger wrote on Twitter.