Jan. 6 Committee Wants To Hear Again From Ex-Secret Service Members Ornato And Engel

Rep. Zoe Lofgren says the new evidence the panel has received contradicts aspects of the Secret Service members' previous testimony.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection is not done interviewing witnesses, even after its final public hearing last week, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) has indicated.

Lofgren on Sunday said the committee will request additional interviews with members of the U.S. Secret Service to make sure they are receiving “the straight story.” Those witnesses include Tony Ornato, the former assistant director of the Secret Service, whose last appearance before the committee was in March; and former President Donald Trump’s lead Secret Service agent, Bobby Engel, who was central to the public testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to onetime White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

“Now we’re in a position, in the very near future, to call the witnesses from the Secret Service back in for a few additional questions,” Lofgren told “CNN Newsroom.”

Lofgren said the panel wanted to go through all the documentary evidence before approaching Secret Service members for supplemental testimony. The agency gave the panel more than 1 million communications exchanged between Secret Service agents before and on Jan. 6, including emails and radio transmissions.

During her public testimony before the Jan. 6 panel, Hutchinson recounted a physical altercation Ornato had described to her between Trump and Engel. Hutchinson said Trump lunged at Engel after the latter told him they would not drive him to the Capitol to join his supporters on Jan. 6.

During Thursday’s hearing, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) said the panel was investigating whether there was merit to an obstruction of justice intention regarding this alleged incident, according to CNN.

“The committee is reviewing testimony regarding potential obstruction on this issue, including testimony about advice given not to tell the committee about this specific topic,” Aguilar said. “We will address this matter in our report.”

Lofgren declined to get into the details of the committee’s investigation of this alleged episode, but told CNN’s Pamela Brown that the panel has “questions about the advice given to some witnesses, and whether all the witnesses were completely candid with the committee.”

“That’s something that we’re interested in, and I think the Department of Justice will be very interested in,” Lofgren said.

Lofgren said the committee wants to be certain they have the full picture.

“We want to make sure that we’re getting the straight story,” she told Brown. “Some of the testimony received doesn’t seem to align with some of the documents, so we have a need to understand that better from them.”

Lofgren said some members of the Secret Service who appeared before the panel downplayed the warnings about the possibility of violence on Jan. 6, based on new evidence the panel has received.

“They knew well in advance, and certainly by the fifth of January, what they were facing,” Lofgren said. “Nevertheless, they sent the vice president up to the Capitol with a fairly small group of people to protect him, into what was — should have obviously been foreseen as a potentially very dangerous situation.”

In Thursday’s public hearing, members of the Jan. 6 committee demonstrated that the Secret Service received an anonymous tip in late December 2020, warning that white nationalists were prepared to “literally kill people” on Jan. 6. They also showed that Trump’s team was planning to declare victory regardless of whether he actually won.

The committee voted to subpoena Trump. It is unclear whether the former president will comply.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) on Sunday told ABC’s “This Week” that “the torch has been passed” from the committee to the Justice Department after the panel’s final hearing.

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