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Former Trump deputy chief of staff Ornato, a key witness on January 6, appears before the House committee

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WASHINGTON — Tony Ornato, who served as White House deputy chief of staff under Donald Trump, is expected to appear Tuesday for an interview before the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, a person familiar with the panel’s plans.

Ornato is considered a key witness to the events surrounding the U.S. Capitol uprising and is likely to be questioned over the testimony of star witness Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Hutchinson testified over the summer that Ornato told her that Trump became angry when his Secret Service aide refused to take him to the Capitol as his supporters stormed the building. She said Ornato told her that Trump lashed out at the wheel of the SUV he was in and demanded he be taken down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.

Ornato’s attorney, Kate Driscoll, didn’t speak specifically about his performance on Tuesday, but told NBC News, “Mr. Ornato will continue to cooperate with the Jan. 6 Select Committee investigation.”

Commission staff declined to comment on the anticipated interview, which was first reported by The New York Times.

Secret Service officials have questioned Hutchinson’s testimony, prompting the commission to retrieve some of them for questioning under oath. Ornato has already testified before the committee, but Hutchinson’s testimony prompted the committee to call him back.

After serving in the Trump White House, Ornato was a deputy director in the Secret Service until he left the agency in August for a job in the private sector.

Before Thanksgiving, the commission’s investigators spoke with Bobby Engel, who ran the former president’s protective division. And in early November, they were scheduled to meet with a Secret Service agent who was in the front car of Trump’s motorcade on the day of the riot.

Meanwhile, former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway met with the committee for nearly five hours on Monday. Conway served as Trump’s senior adviser from the start of his term through August 2020. She decided to leave administration because she said she needed to focus on her family. She also served as campaign manager for Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.

While Conway was not working for Trump on January 6, 2021, The Washington Post quoted 15 Trump advisers, members of Congress, GOP officials, and others: reported that she called an aide who was with the president that day and said she joined others in urging Trump to tell his supporters to resign. Conway also told the aide that the office of Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser called her and asked for help in getting Trump to call in the National Guard, The Post reported.

The committee is expected to issue a final report on its investigation before the end of the year, before the new Congress convenes in January. The panel is not expected to be in the new GOP-controlled House next year.

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