Anthony “Tony” Ornato is a top US intelligence official whose name became a key talking point at the Jan. 6 congressional hearings.
His full name is Anthony M. Ornato but he is often called Tony Ornato. He is a distinguished intelligence officer who used to be a police officer. Over the years he has held many important positions related to protecting the President.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ornato denies a former White House aide’s claim that Trump tried to grab a steering wheel, reports say
Ornato’s name surfaced at the January 6 hearings on June 28, 2022, when Cassidy Hutchinson, a former assistant to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified that President Donald Trump required Secret Service agents to drive him to the Capitol and when she wouldn’t, she pounced on an agent and tried to grab the steering wheel of the SUV they were in. She said that Ornato told her this story.
However, Fox News later reported that, according to a source close to Ornato, he says he did not share that information with Hutchinson.
Fox News reported that Ornato was “shocked” when Hutchinson made the claim during the hearing he was observing. According to Fox, Bobby Engel, the Secret Service agent in the car, also denies the account and both Ornato and Engel want to testify under oath to disprove it.
They had already made statements to the committee and had not been questioned about the steering wheel story, Fox reported. A source also told Fox that Trump was angry in the vehicle, yelling that he wanted to go to the Capitol but never grabbed the wheel.
NBC News also reported that Ornato and Engel previously testified behind closed doors.
Trump denied the allegation to Truth Social.
“I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than hearing very negative things about her (a total fraud and ‘leaker’),” Trump posted on Truth Social. He claimed she wanted to come to Florida to work for him, but “personally, she declined her request. Why did she want to go with us if she thought we were so awful?”
Your fake story that I tried to grab the wheel of the White House limousine to steer it to the Capitol Building is “sick” and fraudulent, very much like the Unselect Committee itself – it wouldn’t even have been possible to tell to do a ridiculous thing. Her story about me throwing food is also false… and why would SHE have to clean it up, I hardly knew who she was?
Washington Post reporter Carol Loennig tweeted, “Sources tell me: @SecretService agents deny Donald Trump assaulted an agent or attempted to grab the wheel on Jan. 6. They offer to testify under oath.”
According to Politico, White House officials asked Ornato “if it would be feasible for the President to travel from the Ellipse to the Capitol building. Ornato referred the staff to Engel, who was one of the top Secret Service agents responsible for Trump’s security.”
2. Ornato, who was favored by Trump for the position, raised concerns about guns in the Capitol
According to AxiosHutchinson also testified that Ornato tried to warn Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about the potential for violence in the Capitol, but Meadows disregarded him.
“I remember exactly [Meadows] not looking up from his phone,” she said, according to Axios, as Oranto described the guns brought to the rally.
“I remember Tony finished his explanation and it took a few seconds for Mark to say anything. I almost said, ‘Mark, did you hear him?’ And then Mark jumped in and was like, ‘Okay, anything else?’ She’s still looking at his phone,” she testified, claiming Meadows “showed almost no reaction” when she told him Ornato believed Capitol police were being “overrun” by rioters.
According to his biography According to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation website, Anthony Ornato is “currently Deputy Director of the United States Secret Service Office of Training.”
In this position, according to the biography, he “manages company-wide oversight of structured policies and programs related to Secret Service training and employee development.”
He was recently “detached to the White House, serving as assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for operations,” according to the website.
Hugo Lowell, journalist at the Guardian, tweeted“Trump installed Tony Ornato – his former senior US intelligence agent – as deputy chief of staff for operations in part bc FLOTUS’ then boss preferred him over Max Miller. But the move unsettled West Wing staff, who knew the Secret Service was meant to be apolitical.”
3. At the White House, Ornato was responsible for the President’s Executive Office
At the White House, Ornato was “responsible for managing the entire administrative, technological, security, and military support structure for the President of the United States, as well as the day-to-day administration of the White House complex, the Executive Office, the President, the President’s facilities as well as the President’s schedule and travel operations,” the bio reads.
“In total, the organization has approximately 5,000 employees with an unclassified budget of approximately $800 million.”
As Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Ornato had “authority over the budget, human resources, information technology (IT) systems and facility management of the President’s Executive Office; the Presidential Airlift Group (Air Force One); the Presidential Marine Helicopter Squadron (Marine One); Camp David; the White House Communications Agency; Presidential Continuity Policy, Plans and Requirements,” the bio continues.
4. Ornato was previously a Special Agent with the Presidential Protective Division and previously helped protect the UN General Assembly
Ornato held a number of other important positions. The biography explains:
Prior to his White House assignment, Mr. Ornato served as Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) of SES’s Office of Investigations (INV). As DAD, Mr. Ornato oversaw the foreign field offices as well as all main departments under INV, including the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). He was responsible for all investigative strategies as well as conducting investigative training at the National Computer Forensics Institute.
Mr. Ornato previously served as an SES Special Agent in Charge (SAIC) for the Presidential Protective Division (PPD). As SAIC, Mr. Ornato led all operational strategies of the Presidential Protective Division and is responsible for the protective methodology and procedures for the President and First Family. In addition, he managed all staffing, operations and a travel budget for the Presidential Protective Division. Prior to assuming office, Mr. Ornato served as SES DSAIC of the Presidential Protective Division, overseeing the White House security division, which included the physical protection of all events at the White House Complex.
Mr. Ornato has also held the positions of ASAIC and ATSAIC of the PPD and ATSAIC of the New York Field Office. As an ASAIC Ornato, he retained responsibility for the operations and career development of special agents and supervisors at PPD. ATSAIC Ornato has been responsible for all safeguards in the New York Field Office district for three consecutive years, including the UN General Assembly.
5. Ornato is a former Connecticut Police Officer who was awarded a Medal for Distinguished Public Service
Ornato started out as a local police officer in Connecticut.
“Mr. Ornato has over 25 years of law enforcement experience, including over 23 years with the United States Secret Service and over two years as a Police Officer for the City of Waterbury, CT,” reads the bio.
“He was hired as a special agent in 1997 and served as a criminal investigator in the New Haven Resident Office. He also served in the Presidential Protective Division during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. ”
The biography continues:
Mr. Ornato holds Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees from the School of Forensic Science – University of New Haven (1995 & 1999) and a Masters of Administrative Leadership from the University of Oklahoma (2016). He also holds a Key Executive Leadership Certificate from American University, Washington, DC and a Harvard Kennedy School General & Flag Officers Homeland Security Certificate from Harvard University, Boston, MA. In 2021 he was awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.
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