Ornato, as President Donald Trump’s head of personal security detail, grew close to the president, who hired him as White House deputy chief of staff for operations — a transition unprecedented in the agency’s history. In that role, Ornato helped coordinate a controversial June 2020 photo in which Trump defiantly strode across Lafayette Square to pose with a Bible after the park was forcibly cleared of peaceful protesters.
But the spotlight turned on Ornato after Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an aide to Mark Meadows, Trump’s White House chief of staff, testified before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, which Ornato told her Trump was looking for. Secret Service agent who refused to do so. take him to the Capitol after a meeting at the Ellipse before the riots.
Hutchinson said Ornato told her Trump was “furious” that he was not allowed to go to the Capitol with his supporters after his speech at the rally. Ornato, she testified, said Trump had jumped at the then head of his Secret Service, Bobby Engel. Engel, Hutchinson said, never disputed what Ornato said.
But Ornato immediately disputed Hutchinson’s testimony, saying he would be willing to testify before the Jan. 6 panel to refute her statements. Although the commission interviewed Ornato before Hutchinson’s testimony, it is not clear whether he has spoken to the panel again since.
In another portion of her testimony, Hutchinson said that on the morning of January 6, Ornato informed Meadows that Trump’s rally-goers had guns, and that Ornato told her that he had also informed Trump. There are no reports of Ornato disputing this portion of Hutchinson’s testimony.
Ornato is also involved in a separate investigation into the January 6 attack conducted by the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, which is investigating the mass deletion of thousands of text messages sent by Secret Service officials. The Secret Service has said the removal was done as part of a phone upgrade. The deleted text messages include some sent on and around January 6.
Ornato returned to Secret Service after Trump’s departure from the White House, as the assistant director of the agency’s training division.