Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Michael Ornato, who was Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff, has emerged as a significant player in a dispute over evidence from the Jan. 6 committee’s most prominent witness.
Anthony M. Ornato, the Secret Service agent in charge of President Trump’s protection detail, resigned in late 2019 as the White House’s top advisers were scrambling to find a replacement for Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Operations, a position Mr. Trump has held since taking office.
The Most Important Jobs in Government.
One of the most important jobs in government is that of a continuity officer, which involves monitoring the president’s travels, security, and military operations while he or she is away from the White House. Dan Walsh, the person vacating the position, and Lindsay Reynolds, the first lady’s chief of staff, immediately decided on Mr. Ornato because he was well-known to Mr. Trump and because they wanted to make sure it went to someone qualified.
Several former officials in the White House claim that Mr. Ornato was not interested in the position. After a while, he was content with his job in the Secret Service’s main office. He had previously worked for both the Bush and Obama administrations, first as a bodyguard for Barbara Bush, the daughter of President George W. Bush, and then as a member of Obama’s detail. In any case, a high-ranking position in the White House would be exceedingly unusual for an official from an avowedly apolitical organization.
Even though he had the option of rejecting it, he decided to accept when Trump called and said he was appointing him. Ornato remained in the West Wing for the remainder of Trump’s presidency, working next to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, in an office just steps from the Oval Office. It has come to light that Mr. Ornato’s actions on January 6, 2021, during the riot at the Capitol are the focus of a dispute. The former White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, delivered a damning picture of Trump’s and his advisers’ behavior to a House committee on Jan. 6 this week. Some opponents see this as an attempt to muddy the waters surrounding Hutchinson’s explosive testimony.
After a speech by President Trump at the Ellipse outside the White House ended on January 6, Ms. Hutchinson said she learned from Mr. Ornato about a shocking scene in the back of the presidential car. Ornato told her that Trump sought to get the Secret Service to drive him into DC to join his fans, she testified. According to Mr. Ornato’s account, Mr. Trump attempted to take the armored vehicle’s steering wheel. She also stated that Ornato informed her the president “lunged” at his chief Secret Service agent, Robert Engel. Hutchinson said that she had been present when Mr. Ornato recounted the story, and he didn’t dispute it when she asked him to do so.
Who Is the Secret Service agent?
George Michael was a music fan, not a celebrity. The doctor he created does the same. From the Choppers of My Youth to the Chair of the Anchor How Fifty Years After a Small-Town Art Heist Left Paintings Missing, They Were Recovered. Security officials said that Mr. Ornato, Mr. Engel, and the driver of the vehicle are willing to testify that such an occurrence did not occur. (Before Ms. Hutchinson appeared this week, the committee had previously examined Mr. Ornato and Mr. Engel.).
The fact that Mr. Trump asked to be carried to the Capitol in an angry manner is not in dispute, according to the officials. Officials in Trump’s administration informed The New York Times on the day of the disturbance that Trump was enraged while at the rally. However, according to one Secret Service agent who requested anonymity because of the nature of the evidence, Ms. Hutchinson’s account of their conversation was not accurate. Although the transcripts of Mr. Ornato’s testimony were not released, officials from the Jan. 6 committee have sought to bolster Ms. Hutchinson’s credibility by claiming that they identified contradictions in his statement.
Mr. Ornato Is a former government official.
An ex-colleague accused him of lying on Twitter about an interaction they had during the 2020 protests outside the White House in Lafayette Square. One of the committee’s members, Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), commented, “There appears to be a major connection here… “Tony Ornato enjoys lying.” The ex-national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, Keith Kellogg, officially endorsed Mr. Ornato, as did other former government officials.
Kelly, the former White House chief of staff who openly broke with Trump and worked with Ornato when he was the special agent in charge of Trump’s detail, said, “I think the guy’s a straight shooter.” Throughout our trip, “there was never a second thought in my mind that, wherever we went, the work the Secret Service needed to accomplish was done and done really effectively.”
What Is Trump’s Demanding for Permission?
After being told by Mr. Ornato, a former senior official in the Trump administration, Mr. Trump demanded permission to attend a major public event with only a day’s notice. “Limo talk,” as it was known, was a term used to describe Trump’s commands and statements that he either expected others to follow or that Mr. Ornato thought the chief of staff should be informed of in the early years of Trump’s presidency, according to two former senior officials.
Even though he works out of Secret Service headquarters, individuals who know Mr. Ornato say he frequently travels to the agency’s training site in rural Maryland to meet with aspiring agents. Over the course of his career, he has served in a variety of leadership roles inside the agency, most notably at the New York field office. During his time there, he was in charge of all security activities, including the high-profile task of protecting U.N. General Assembly officials.
Why Did Ornato Never Discuss His Political Beliefs?
Mr. Ornato’s family operated a bar in New Haven, Conn., that was a favorite haunt of local police and firefighters for generations. In 2000, he worked as a Secret Service agent in the New Haven, Connecticut, headquarters of George W. Bush’s reelection campaign. He joined his daughter’s security detail when President Bush was elected. He stayed on with Mr. Obama’s administration and received a few promotions.
According to former Trump White House staffers, Ornato never discussed his political beliefs, even when the former president asked for them, as he was known to do with nearly everyone he met throughout his presidency. Even yet, some White House staffers were concerned about the choice of a member of the Secret Service to serve as the White House’s deputy chief of staff of operations.
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Former Obama administration acting homeland security secretary Rand Beers claimed, “Never, ever heard of it.” In spite of the fact that Secret Service detailees are sometimes involved in highly sensitive and embarrassing situations, the public generally does not perceive them as being politically motivated by their silence.