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Former Secret Service agent meets with Jan. 6 committee over limo allegations

Former Secret Service Assistant Director Tony Ornato is expected to answer questions in front of the House Jan. 6 committee on Tuesday, including whether there was a physical altercation involving former President Donald Trump on that day inside the presidential limo (pictured). File Pool Photo by Drew Angerer/UPI
Former Secret Service Assistant Director Tony Ornato is expected to answer questions in front of the House Jan. 6 committee on Tuesday, including whether there was a physical altercation involving former President Donald Trump on that day inside the presidential limo (pictured). File Pool Photo by Drew Angerer/UPI

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Former Secret Service Assistant Director Tony Ornato is expected to answer questions in front of the House Jan. 6 committee on Tuesday.

Ornato's appearance was reported by CNN, NBC and ABC, citing sources close to the panel.

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Tuesday would mark Ornato's third appearance in front of the committee and first since June, when Cassidy Hutchinson -- a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows -- spoke to investigators.

Hutchinston testified that former President Donald Trump demanded to go to the Capitol after his speech that day.

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She then detailed how she'd heard that after the demand was rejected, an angered Trump lunged at the vehicle's steering wheel, trying to take control. Hutchinson said she heard that story from both Ornato and the Secret Service agent in charge of Trump's security detail at the time, Bobby Engel.

Engel answered questions about the incident, during a closed-door session earlier in November. At the time, Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., confirmed the appearance, but did not elaborate on the extent of the conversation.

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"We learned some additional information, and at some point we plan to use it," Thompson said afterward.

Lawmakers hope Ornato's appearance Tuesday will help to further clarify the situation. The 48-year-old retired from the Secret Service in August after 25 years with the agency, as well as a stint as then-President Trump's White House deputy chief of staff for operations. He later returned to the agency to run its training program.

Secret Service officials have disputed Hutchinson's version of events, dismissing claims of the physical altercation.

The committee also subpoenaed text messages sent by various Secret Service officials on Jan. 6. But in July, Inspector General Joseph Cuffari confirmed the messages were erased as "part of a device-replacement program."

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Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, is sworn in to testify as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a hearing on June 28, 2022. Pool Photo by Andrew Harnik/UPI | License Photo

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