First on CNN: Jan. 6 committee moves forward with Secret Service interviews


Washington
CNN

The House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol is wrapping up its review of more than a million pages of Secret Service documents and plans to bring the agency’s top agents and officials to testify in the coming weeks. multiple sources tell CNN.

The expansion of the list, which sources say includes about half a dozen witnesses, indicates the committee is seeking answers from the agency on several fronts, including what it knew about threats before the attack, what former President Donald Trump knew about armed protesters. I’m going to the Capitol, and how he responded to Trump’s confrontational testimony with his security detail that day.

In a recent hearing, the Committee presented a series of new communications from within the Secret Service, in which agents said they were aware of potential violence on January 6, including threats against then-Vice President Mike Pence. The set of Secret Service documents was subpoenaed by the committee after the agency disclosed that it had deleted text messages from the day of the attack.

The committee has previously said it plans to call two key witnesses, former Secret Service assistant director Tony Ornato, who left the agency to briefly serve as Trump’s deputy chief of staff, and Trump’s top Secret Service agent on the day of the attack, Robert. angel Both men have already met with the committee.

Among the other witnesses being examined, sources say:

  • Kimberly CheatleOn January 6, the Assistant Director of Protective Operations became the Director of the Secret Service, becoming the principal agent responsible for protecting senior government officials that day.
  • Anthony Guglielmi, current communications manager. Appointed in March 2022, Guglielmi was not at the agency at the time of the Capitol attack, but has managed the agency’s response to key developments in the committee’s investigation, including how the Secret Service responded to the testimony of former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. A heated confrontation between Trump and his agents in his presidential SUV on January 6.
  • Timothy GiebelsDetail of former Vice President Mike Pence.
  • Driver On January 6th to the cartel of former President Donald Trump, whose name has never been released publicly.

Until recently, Ornato’s attorney, Kate Driscoll, told CNN that the commission had not requested additional testimony from her client since his last appearance in March. On Thursday, however, Driscoll said: “Mr. Ornato continues to cooperate with the commission in the investigation.”

Giebels, reached by phone, told CNN that he has not yet contacted the committee.

A Secret Service spokesman declined to comment on, among other things, which of its employees may be called to testify before the committee.

The committee did not want to give an opinion.

The committee still wants more information about what the Secret Service knew about threats to Pence and lawmakers before the attack, the sources said.

In an Oct. 13 hearing, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said the Secret Service had received alerts of online threats against Pence before the Capitol riot, including that Pence is “‘a dead man walking if he doesn’t do the right thing. . . .'”

CNN has learned that Pence and his team were never informed of these threats, according to a source familiar with the matter, and only learned of them when they were made public during a hearing this month. A Secret Service spokeswoman also declined to say whether Pence had been briefed on the threats.

On Jan. 6, a Secret Service agent sent a message at 12:36 p.m., according to a message revealed at a recent committee hearing: “With so many weapons found so far; you wonder how many are unknown. It could be sport in the evening.”

Another agent replied a minute later: “Definitely. The people at the Ellipse said they will go to the Capitol after the POTUS speech.”

There are also questions about what Trump knew about gunmen in the crowd before his speech on the morning of January 6. Through radio traffic, intra-agency communications and witness testimony, the commission has revealed that Secret Service agents knew people in the crowd. Trump’s speech was armed. A witness, former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson, testified publicly on June 28 that Trump was frustrated that armed individuals were not being allowed through metal detectors to attend his speech.

Hutchinson testified that she heard Trump say something like, “I don’t care about having guns. They’re not here to hurt me. Get rid of the effing magazines. Let my people in.”

Another incident the commission is investigating is Trump’s behavior in his presidential SUV on the day of the attack, when he was told he could not go to the Capitol after his speech.

Hutchinson testified that Ornato told him that Trump got so angry that he lunged at a member of his detail and said something like, “I’m the president. Take me to the Capitol now.’

Hutchinson’s testimony about Ornato’s description of the altercation was sworn in at a public hearing on June 28 and has become a major event in the timeline of Trump’s moves on January 6. Ornato and Engel met with the committee before Hutchinson’s testimony.

Ornato and Engel have not denied Hutchinson’s testimony on the record. A Secret Service official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told CNN previously that Ornato had denied telling Hutchinson that the former president had caught an agent behind the wheel of his presidential SUV or in his detail.

Ornato has been interviewed by the commission at least twice – in January and March – as part of its investigation. Ornato’s attorney told CNN that he remains willing to cooperate with the investigation, but so far he has not been asked to testify again since his appearance in March.

The driver of Trump’s presidential SUV, a key witness to the incident, has never been called by the committee, sources told CNN. Sources told CNN the panel learned about the driver through Hutchinson’s testimony.

At the July 21 hearing, Hutchinson’s testimony was corroborated by retired DC Police Department Sergeant Mark Robinson, who was assigned Trump’s motorcade that day and sat in the lead vehicle with the Secret Service agent in charge of the motorcade, who was also called. Agent of the Transport Section.

Robinson testified to the committee that the Transportation Section agent told him that “the president was angry and adamant about going to the Capitol and there was a heated discussion about it.”

Also at that hearing, the committee introduced an unnamed former White House staffer with national security responsibilities, who testified that Ornato also told this witness about Trump’s angry behavior. The committee shared in an Oct. 13 hearing that this anonymous person told the committee that Trump’s tantrum in the SUV was so well-known that it became a “water-cooler debate.”

In addition, the jury made a specific point to raise concerns about potential witness tampering.

Rep. Pete Aguilar, Democrat of California, said at the committee’s October 13 hearing, “The committee is reviewing testimony about potential obstruction on this issue, including testimony about advice to the committee not to tell the committee about this particular issue. We will address this issue in our report.”

Committee member Adam Kinzinger told CNN in September that panel members believe Ornato was personally involved in efforts to discredit Hutchinson’s testimony while he was still at the agency, and said unnamed Secret Service officials and others backed the story.

“I think it’s very important to note that, through quotes, through anonymous sources, what we believe is actually Tony Ornato himself, Cassidy contradicted Hutchinson’s testimony and said, it’s not true and Tony will testify under oath,” he told CNN. “And Of course, he didn’t go in to testify under oath.”