Secret Service Ties to Trump Ring Alarm Bells Amid Jan 6. Revelations

The relationship between the Secret Service and former President Donald Trump is ringing alarm bells amid revelations from testimony given to the House of Representatives' Select Committee that is investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots.

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified before the committee on Tuesday that Tony Ornato, who is currently assistant director of the Secret Service Office of Training, told her that Trump became irate while in his vehicle on January 6 after he was told he could not go to the Capitol.

Hutchinson said that Ornato had told her Trump had tried to grab the steering wheel and that Ornato had made those comments in a room with Robert Engel, the Secret Service agent in charge of Trump's detail on the day.

Ornato was White House deputy chief of staff for operations at the time. He had been permitted to leave his Secret Service role temporarily in order to serve as deputy chief of staff in an unusual move for the service.

Following Hutchinson's testimony, Secret Service sources told various media outlets that agents were ready to testify and refute the claim. Those agents reportedly include Engel and Ornato as well as the driver of the car.

That has placed renewed attention on the Secret Service and that attention looks set to intensify after investigative journalist and author Carol Leonnig told MSNBC on Tuesday that some agents in Trump's security detail appeared to support the Capitol rioters, while Ornato and Engel are considered to be "aligned" with Trump.

"There was a very large contingent of Donald Trump's detail who were personally cheering for Biden to fail," Leonnig said.

"Some of them even took to their personal media accounts to cheer on the insurrection and the individuals rioting up to the Capitol, as patriots. That is problematic," she said.

"I am not saying that Tony Ornato or Bobby Engel did that but they are viewed as being aligned with Donald Trump, which cuts against them," Leonnig added. "However, if they testify, under oath, 'this is what happened,' I think that is going to be important."

This isn't the first time questions have been raised about the role of Secret Service agents on January 6. In April, Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin highlighted the fact that former Vice President Mike Pence had refused to get into an armored limousine manned by Secret Service agents during the Capitol riot.

Raskin, who is a member of the select committee, suggested that Pence had refused to get into the vehicle because he knew it was part of a "coup" attempt.

"He knew exactly what this inside coup they had planned for was going to do," Raskin said. "It was a coup directed by the president against the vice president and against the Congress."

Some have theorized that the intention was to drive Pence away from the Capitol in order to prevent him from carrying out his role in certifying the 2020 Electoral College votes, though this theory has not been proven.

In 2019, then President Trump removed the director of the Secret Service, Randolph "Tex" Alles, in what one unnamed official called "a near-systematic purge" of the agency. Trump then appointed James Murray as his replacement and Murray is still in the post.

Following President Joe Biden's election victory in 2020, it was widely reported that changes would be made to the Secret Service and agents who had protected Biden during the Obama administration would be brought back. Some of the president's allies were reportedly concerned about Secret Service agents having loyalty to Trump.

Newsweek has reached out to the Secret Service for comment.

Donald Trump Secret Service
The Secret Service is facing renewed scrutiny over potential ties to former President Donald Trump. Pictured, Trump walks his with his wife Melania surrounded by Secret Service officers outside the White House as the presidential inaugural parade winds through the nation's capital on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C.