Jan. 6 probe releases transcripts for Ginni Thomas, Rudy Giuliani, Tony Ornato, other key witnesses

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 09:  A video of former President Donald Trump speaking during a rally near the White House on Jan. 6th, is shown on a screen at a hearing held by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol on June 09, 2022 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The bipartisan committee, which has been gathering evidence related to the January 6, 2021 attack at the U.S. Capitol for almost a year, will present its findings in a series of televised hearings. On January 6, 2021, supporters of President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol Building in an attempt to disrupt a congressional vote to confirm the electoral college win for Joe Biden. (Photo by Jabin Botsford-Pool/Getty Images)


Transcripts released on Friday are available below. Highlights and recaps from key transcripts will be updated in this post.

  • Patrick Byrne, CEO Overstock.com
  • Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Steven Engel, former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel
  • Mark Finchem, former GOP nominee for Arizona secretary of state who advanced fake elector bid, voter fraud conspiracy theory
  • Rudy Giuliani, Trump personal attorney
  • Donell Harvin, D.C. DHS intelligence analyst
  • Eric Herschmann, former Trump White House counsel
  • Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows
  • Jared Kushner, Trump adviser; son in law
  • Nicholas Luna, Trump personal aide
  • Derek Lyons, former White House staff secretary
  • Douglas Macgregor, former senior adviser to the acting Secretary of Defense
  • Jason Miller, senior aide to Trump
  • Cleta Mitchell, Trump attorney
  • Mick Mulvaney, former director of Office of Management and Budget, former acting White House chief of staff
  • Timothy Murtaugh, communications director for Trump’s reelection campaign
  • Anthony Ornato, former assistant director of U.S. Secret Service Office of Training, WH deputy chief of staff of operations
  • BJ Pak, former U.S. attorney investigating fraud claims in Georgia
  • Matthew Pottinger, former White House deputy press secretary
  • Kellye SoRelle, onetime counsel to the Oath Keepers, paramour of Oath Keeper leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes; facing indictment
  • Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, advocate of voter fraud conspiracy theory

For access to all of the Jan. 6 committee transcripts published so far, check out the Daily Kos resource available here.

This story is developing. 

HIGHLIGHTS and RECAPS

Tony Ornato

Tony Ornato was interviewed by the committee three times. The transcript released Friday is from his Nov. 29, 2022. He was also interviewed on Jan. 28, 2022 and March 29, 2022. He left the Secret Service to work in the White House and lead security training. He was one of several points of contact on Jan. 6 tasked with passing along communications about security-related issues.

Ornato became a key focus for the committee after former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Ornato was present during an explosive moment on Jan. 6 when former President Donald Trump was informed that his motorcade would not be taken to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse.

Under oath, Hutchinson said Ornato invited her into his office at the White House on Jan. 6 along with Bobby Engel, the head of Trump’s Secret Service detail. She told investigators that Ornato asked her if she had yet caught wind of Trump’s episode in the motorcade. Hutchinson said Ornato recounted how Trump “lunged” at Secret Service agent Bobby Engel as Engel sat in the driver’s seat of the president’s armored vehicle. 

  • Curiously, Ornato testified that he didn’t recall whether he had read memos from the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department or any news reports about the potential for violence on Jan. 6. However, the committee obtained an email that he forwarded to Bobby Engel on Jan. 4 about the looming threat. Though he told the committee he received “hundreds of emails” daily, the Jan. 4 email was one of the only ones the committee received from the Secret Service that Ornato forwarded to Engel.
  • Ornato received an email, subject line: “Enrique Tarrio post” on Dec. 12 from the Protective Intelligence Division. It had been sent as well to Secret Service agent and other officials, including Bobby Engel. Ornato testified he wasn’t familiar with Tarrio, the leader of the extremist Proud Boys, at the time. The email disclosed that Tarrio had taken a tour of the White House that morning and there was “no known media coverage” at that moment. 
    • “So, as | read it today, ‘there is no known media coverage,’ meaning that there could be possible media coverage of this gentleman having a tour at the White House. And, at the time, | probably — | didn’t — | wasn’t aware of all the groups and everything back then, as | am more familiar with them now. However, if it was relayed to me that that’s who that particular person was, | would’ve made the chief of staff aware that this had taken place that day,” Ornato testified
    • When the committee pushed back, saying he had to be aware of who the Proud Boys were—they participated in a MAGA rally that was heavily reported in November and on the night of Dec. 12, held another rally in Washington—Ornato said: “I don’t recall. There was so many groups. | mean, | could’ve known at the time. | just don’t recall this specific group of knowing — you know, | knew Code Pink, | knew — there’s different — when | was actually working as a special agent in charge, there were different groups that | was always briefed on and had in my head. During this time, not being in that environment, | don’t recall all the groups that | knew or didn’t know.”
  • Ornato’s memory wasn’t jogged any further when asked whether he was aware that Bobby Engel had received an email on Dec. 12 questioning why the Secret Service hadn’t been alerted that the leader of the Proud Boys went on a White House tour. Ornato said he may have passed the information along to Mark Meadows, however he couldn’t recall specifically. 
    • “I don’t specifically [remember a conversation with Meadows]. There was so much in my role there that I would have to make him aware of. This was probably one of the many thing that I did bring to his attention because that was my normal course of business,” Ornato testified.

Committee: “— is your testimony that you just weren’t aware of that and don’t know whether you passed that along to Mr. Meadows?”

Ornato: “No, sir. Let me explain…. | completely grasp what you’re saying on who he was and what he was doing. | would’ve passed that to Mr. Meadows based upon who [Tarrio] was. | would not have known who submitted him to come into the White House. | would not have known any of that, as that all gets disseminated through the service to run background checks. So they would’ve brought that to us, or to me, on that. | wouldn’t have known that information. But | would’ve addressed this with Chief of Staff Meadows based upon not just the media attention but due to the gravity of who the person was, absolutely.”

Notably: Later in the interview, Ornato testifies that Meadows would have been briefed on “the potential for groups to clash, the pro and the anti groups on the Washington Monument” on Jan. 6.

“I would have tallked to Chief of Staff Meadows on that,” he said.

  • Ornato also had trouble recalling whether he was aware of Elmer Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers who was recently convicted of seditious conspiracy. On Dec. 17, he received a forwarded link to a story about Rhodes with the headline “Right-wing militant leader pledges violent support for Trump dictatorship.”
    • “| don’t remember that general subject coming to my attention. | just remember from reviewing the documents of the ones that — dozens of groups on there, | believe the Oath Keepers is on there. But! don’t remember it being pulled out as a specific topic of conversation,” Ornato testified.
  • It is notable in his exchanges with the committee that Ornato had left the Secret Service to take on the role at the White House but testified that he still had access to his Secret Service-issued cell phone.  He testified that he was taken of some of the listservs for internal emails however. He also testified that he didn’t know the meaning of “ALCON,” common shorthand for “ALL CONCERNED” that is used in bulletins among intelligence and military services
  • On Dec. 24, Ornato received a bulletin from the Protective Intelligence Division citing the open-source TheDonald.win message board. The bulletin highlighted warnings of people defying local gun laws when coming to D.C. on Jan. 6. The message highlighted stated: “’Armed and ready, Mr. President’: Demonstrators urged to bring guns, prepare for violence at January 6th “Stop the Steal’ protest in D.C.”
  • Ornato said he didn’t discuss TheDonald.win with Dan Scavino, the top Trump White House aide who often handled and monitored the former president’s social media. If Scavino would have seen the threatening messages, he would have gone straight to the Secret Service anyway, Ornato said, not him. When asked if he could recall a time Scavino did go to the Secret Service directly about similar material, he couldn’t recall. 
  • Ornato testified that he was not part of any conversation where messages on social media from around Dec. 26 about Proud Boys and Oath Keepers marching on Washington while armed, setting up chokepoints on bridges, or taking over the White House, were discussed. Since he wasn’t with the Secret Service officially, he testified that these details may not make it to him. But he had regular contact with Bobby Engel, the head of the president’s security detail. Ornato was not aware whether Engel had received these notifications. 

In a critical exchange, the committee noted to Ornato that it had uncovered an email that was forwarded to him on Dec. 28 listing all of the demonstrations happening in D.C. that day. The events were listed with a note stating: “There is no indication of civil disobedience.” Ornato affirmed that he received this email. This prompted investigators to sharply question him. 

Committee: So the emails that we showed you prior to this were new emails that we had not shown you before. Obviously, we had shown you this before in the prior interview, and it led to the question about your awareness and lack thereof about the thedonald.win.

Is there any explanation or can you reconcile for us how this is pushed up to you, but the other, frankly, more specific and detailed information about the potential for violence was not pushed up to you?

Ornato: I don’t know, ma’am.

  • In a particularly jarring exchange, Ornato tells the committee he also has no memory of a 12-minute long phone call with Bobby Engel on the morning of Jan. 6. He couldn’t recall if Engel had discussed armed rallygoers, potential security threats, or if there were sufficient magnetometers during the call though the magnetometer issue was something Ornato admitted was a discussion on Jan. 5 with Engel and other Secret Service officials. Phone records show the 12-minute call was the longest call logged in Ornato’s White House-issued phone that day. The call was initiated by Engel only 10 minutes after records show Engel had been copied on a message about plate carriers, pepper spray, CB walkie-talkies and people in the front row of the rally carrying plexiglass riot shields.

Committee: “That’s the predicate for the question. It’s just kind of hard to believe that you don’t recall anything about a conversation when that was what was going on around the Ellipse and the White House that morning.

Ornato: Sir, | don’t recall that conversation taking place.



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