Secret Service official at the center of salacious Jan. 6 accusations retires

Secret Service Assistant Director Tony Ornato, who was being targeted by the Jan. 6 committee over alleged remarks by former President Trump, resigned on Monday from the agency after 25 years of service.

(Video Credit: CNN)

Secret Service Communications Chief Anthony Guglielmi has confirmed Ornato’s exit to The Hill. Ornato’s retirement was announced internally earlier in the day.

“I did retire today to pursue a career in the private sector. I retired from the U.S. Secret Service after more than 25 years of faithful service to my country, including serving the past five presidents. I long-planned to retire and have been planning this transition for more than a year,” Ornato told CNN.

Ornato also said he has not taken a role with the former president or any of his companies. He declined to tell CNN who his new employer is.

Sources also told CNN that Ornato had been eligible for retirement since earlier this summer and he had been discussing leaving the Secret Service since before Hutchinson’s testimony took place two months ago.

At the time of the Jan. 6 riot, Ornato was serving as Trump’s deputy chief of staff. He was dragged into the Jan. 6 inquisition when former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson dropped his name, claiming that he had told her the former president was “irate” when Robert Engel, the special agent in charge of the Secret Service at the time, told Trump he could not go to the Capitol that day.

Hutchinson was the same former Trump staffer who testified that he lunged at his security detail and toward the steering wheel of the presidential vehicle, demanding to head to Capitol Hill on the day of the riot. She gave hearsay testimony that Ornato had not disputed that account to her.

Ornato asserts that he is willing to discredit Hutchinson’s statements under oath. Guglielmi told The Hill in an interview that Ornato has not testified since Hutchinson’s allegations.

“We have continuously made Tony Ornato available,” Guglielmi noted to Politico.

He also pointed out that Ornato is now a private citizen and is no longer a federal employee.

Ornato is not the only Secret Service official to announce they will be leaving the agency, either. On Wednesday, Biden selected Kimberly Cheatle to serve as the agency’s next director. She will take over for retiring Director James Murray.

Murray’s departure was delayed briefly as he addressed the issue of text messages being deleted that were sent by Secret Service agents on Jan. 5 and 6, 2021. The messages were accidentally scrubbed during a device replacement program, according to the agency.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Joseph Cuffari would go on to alert lawmakers of the incident. Now they are demanding to know why he didn’t tell them earlier.

The Jan. 6 committee pounced on the text messages after being alerted by Cuffari. In the end, the Secret Service turned over just one message to the inquisitors, sent by the former Capitol Police Chief as he pleaded for help.

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