House January 6 committee interviewing Secret Service agents in Trump’s motorcade on day of attack
The House January 6 select committee is getting a window into former President Donald Trump’s motorcade on the day of the US Capitol attack, interviewing on Friday the Secret Service agent who was in the lead car on January 6 and scheduling testimony from the driver of Trump’s presidential vehicle as soon as next week, multiple sources tell CNN.
Friday’s interview, which has not been previously reported, is the fourth with Secret Service agents and officials in five days as the panel continues to expand its focus on the agency.
The rapid clip of interviews underscores the committee’s interest in learning what occurred after Trump left his rally at the Ellipse on January 6, 2021, and departed to the White House. Several witnesses previously told the committee that Trump angrily demanded to go to the Capitol but that his Secret Service detail declined to take him.
The names of the agent from the lead motorcade car testifying Friday and of the driver of Trump’s SUV, which was behind the lead car, have not been publicly revealed.
CNN previously reported the committee wanted to talk to at least half a dozen Secret Service witnesses. Just this week, the panel interviewed the onetime head of former Vice President Mike Pence’s security detail, Tim Giebels, former Secret Service agent John Gutsmiedl, and agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.
The House select committee declined to comment.
The US Secret Service declined to answer questions about witness testimony but reiterated its intention to fully cooperate with the committee.
“We have been fully cooperative with the Select Committee since inception because ensuring a travesty like the Capitol insurrection can never occur again speaks to the very reason why the Secret Service was created and is paramount to our mission of protecting democracy and leaders of the American Government,” the agency said in a statement.
The committee has been investigating Trump’s behavior in his presidential SUV on the day of the Capitol attack for months.
Former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson testified publicly on June 28 that former Secret Service Assistant Director Tony Ornato, who was in the car with Trump, told her that Trump got so angry that he reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel with one hand and lunged at Robert Engel, his Secret Service agent on that day, with the other.
“The President reached up towards the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said ‘Sir; you need to take your hand off the steering wheel. We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol.’ Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel,” Hutchinson testified.
Hutchinson said that Ornato told her this story of Trump being “irate” back at his White House office later that day with Engel present. She said Engel “did not correct or disagree with any part of the story.”
Both Ornato, who briefly left the agency to serve as Trump’s deputy chief of staff, and Engel met with the committee prior to Hutchinson’s testimony. The committee has said they want to hear from both again.
Ornato’s lawyer, Kate Driscoll, told CNN last week: “Mr. Ornato continues to cooperate with the committee in its investigation.”
The committee has not interviewed the driver of Trump’s presidential vehicle.
CNN previously reported that a Washington, DC, police officer has corroborated to the committee details regarding a heated exchange Trump had with his Secret Service detail when he was told he could not go to the US Capitol after his rally. The officer with the Metropolitan Police Department was in the motorcade with the Secret Service for Trump on January 6, according to the source.
The committee also may ask Secret Service witnesses about any efforts to determine whether it was feasible for Trump to be taken to the Capitol.
Guglielmi told CNN in June that after Trump urged his supporters to march with him to the Capitol during his January 6 speech, the agency asked the Metropolitan Police Department to figure out if a motorcade route would be possible, to no avail.
“Secret Service personnel assigned to the President’s detail told administration officials that proposed travel plans to visit the Capitol on January 6 would not be feasible,” Guglielmi said.
This story has been updated with additional details.