Ornato, as head of President Donald Trump’s personal security team, became close to the president, who hired him as the White House’s deputy chief of staff for operations, a transition unprecedented in the agency’s history. In this role, Ornato helped coordinate a controversial June 2020 photo shoot in which Trump defiantly walked through Place Lafayette to pose with a Bible after the park was forcibly cleared of peaceful demonstrators.
But attention focused on Ornato after Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified before a House committee investigating the Jan. refused to take him to the Capitol after the Ellipse rally, before the riot.
Hutchinson said Ornato told her that Trump was “angry” that he was not allowed to go to the Capitol with his supporters after speaking at the rally. Ornato, according to her testimony, said that Trump lashed out at then-head of his secret service, Bobby Engel. Engel, according to Hutchinson, never challenged Ornato’s words.
But Ornato immediately disputed Hutchinson’s testimony and said he was ready to testify before the commission on January 6 to refute her claims. Although the committee interviewed Ornato prior to Hutchinson’s testimony, it is unclear if he has spoken to the committee again since then.
In another part of her testimony, Hutchinson said that Ornato told Meadows on the morning of January 6 that the Trump rally participants had guns, and that Ornato told her that he also told Trump about it. There were no reports of Ornato challenging this part of Hutchinson’s testimony.
Ornato is also linked to a separate investigation into the January 6 attacks 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 agents. The Secret Service said the removal was done as part of a phone upgrade. Among the deleted text messages are messages sent around January 6th.
Ornato returned to the Secret Service following Trump’s departure from the White House, taking up a position as assistant director of the agency’s training department.