January 6 committee will seek interviews with Secret Service officials

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack plans to request interviews with half a dozen current and former Secret Service officials, according to a source familiar.

Dates for the interviews have yet to be set, but come after the committee received more than a million electronic communications from the Secret Service after an internal watchdog informed the panel that some of its texts from 6 January seemed to have been “erased”.

Development was first reported band CNN.

Among those the panel wants to speak with are two men whose names have come to the forefront of the inquiry following explosive testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who detailed a story told of how then-President Trump “rushed” over his security detail after being told they wouldn’t be transporting him to the Capitol to join his supporters.

Those men are Tony Ornato, who briefly left the Secret Service to take on a civilian role as Trump’s deputy chief of staff, and Bobby Engel, who headed Trump’s security detail that day. Ornato told the story to Hutchinson in front of Engel, who allegedly witnessed the event.

Both men have previously served with the panel, but the committee is also seeking information from the driver of the car who has not yet been named when Trump allegedly reached for the steering wheel.

The panel also wants to speak with Secret Service leaders, including Director Kimberly Cheatle, who served as Deputy Director of Protective Operations on Jan. 6.

Also of interest to the committee are Timothy Giebels, head of former Vice President Mike Pence’s security department, and Anthony Guglielmi, the agency’s communications director. Guglielmi only joined the agency in March this year, but managed its media response to allegations made during Hutchinson’s testimony.

The Secret Service referred The Hill to the January 6 panel for comment, and the panel did not immediately respond.

At a hearing earlier this month, the committee presented new evidence it had obtained from the slice of data handed over by the Secret Service – a cache that greatly exceeded what had been requested by the committee.

The panel showed intelligence reports, which corroborated Hutchinson’s earlier testimony, showing that the Secret Service was well aware that Trump supporters gathered near the Ellipse before the attack on the Capitol were heavily armed, preventing them from enter the secure area where Trump was speaking. .

They also showed excerpts from an interview with an unnamed former White House employee who said there was “[water] talk cooler” about “how angry the president was when they were, you know, in the limo” and that he was “angry” on the way back to the White House, but stopped before to repeat Hutchinson’s second-hand account that Trump “pounced” on his driver.

Other posts showed that even once Trump returned to the White House after his speech, he insisted on joining the crowds on Capitol Hill. A Secret Service memo said he would “hold” the Capitol for two hours before heading out to meet his supporters. It was not until shortly before 2 p.m. that the agency ended those plans.

Minutes later, Trump fired a tweet criticizing Pence, alarming one agent who noted it “probably wouldn’t be good for Pence,” and another who worried the tweet had garnered more than 20,000 likes within minutes.

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