The White House official reportedly disputing account of Trump's actions on Jan. 6 has a history of lying for him, former aides say
Cassidy Hutchinson testifies before the House Committee investigating the Capitol Riot. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Cassidy Hutchinson testified that on January 6, 2021, Trump attempted to seize the wheel and pounced on Secret Service agents.
Tony Ornato, a former White House official, is said to deny this account.
Two former WH officials said Ornato has lied for Trump in the past to protect him.
The Trump White House official assigned to deny Cassidy Hutchinson's explosive testimony last week has a history of lying for former President Donald Trump, two former White House staffers said.
Testifying before the special committee investigating the Capitol riots, Hutchinson, a former top adviser to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, said Trump became "enraged" when his intelligence command refused to release him on Jan. 6 with his to let supporters march, 2021.
Citing a conversation with Tony Ornato, then the White House deputy chief of staff in charge of operations, Hutchinson said Ornato told her Trump tried to grab the wheel of the president's SUV and lunged at Secret Service agent Robert Engel .
According to Hutchinson, Ornato told her Trump shouted, "I'm the damn President, take me to the Capitol now."
However, Ornato is said to have challenged that account and plans to say so before the Jan. 6 committee, USA Today reported. CNN's Shimon Prokupecz, citing an unnamed intelligence official, reported last week that Ornato has denied telling Hutchinson that Trump lunged at an intelligence agent or the steering wheel.
Ornato plans to say it was true that Trump intended to join the marchers on the Capitol on Jan. 6, but that he never lunged at Engel or attempted to grab the steering wheel, USA Today reported.
Similarly, NBC News' Peter Alexander reported that Engel was willing to testify under oath that he was not attacked by Trump and that the former president never jumped for the steering wheel.
But former White House officials Olivia Troye and Alyssa Farah Griffin have criticized Ornato, saying he has lied for Trump in the past.
"There seems to be a pattern here of conversations that Tony is uncomfortable with, and then he comes back and says they never happened," Troye, who served as Vice President Pence's adviser on homeland security and counterterrorism, told USA Today.
"That really speaks to Tony's character and credibility and whether he's made [Trump's] bids in the past and then turned them down to protect him."
And Griffin, a former Trump White House communications director, tweeted on June 29: “Tony Ornato lied about me too. During the 2020 Lafayette Square protests, I told Mark Meadows & Ornato they needed to warn the press staged there before vacating the square. Meadows replied, 'We don't do that.'"
"Tony later lied and said the exchange never happened. He knows it happened.”
Hutchinson said at the Jan. 6 hearings that Trump wants to join his supporters marching on the Capitol on Jan. 6 because he plans to give a second speech outside the complex. The mob had marched on the Capitol immediately after Trump spoke at a rally in the nearby Ellipse.
A former Secret Service agent told insider Nicole Gaudiano that given Trump's size, it would be extremely difficult to snag the wheel of the presidential SUV.
"Trump's not a little guy, is he? And the space to actually jump on the wheel isn't that big," the former agent said.
"I don't want to sound dismissive of the former president, but his size alone would prevent him from actually getting behind the wheel."
Trump officials did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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