A senior Secret Service official who held a policy position in the Trump White House left the agency Monday to work in the private sector.
Tony Ornato, who was deputy director of the Secret Service, said his departure was planned more than a year ago, before explosive congressional testimony this summer about former President Donald Trump’s actions on Jan. 6.
“I retired today to pursue a career in the private sector,” Ornato told NBC News. “I retired from the United States Secret Service after more than 25 years of faithful service to my country, including serving the last five presidents. I have long planned to retire and have been planning this transition for over a year “.
Secret Service Special Agent Kevin Helgert said Ornato retired “in good standing.”
Ornato led Trump’s protective detail and made the unusual move to a political post as deputy chief of staff for White House operations in 2019 before returning to the Secret Service to help oversee its training office.
Ornato became a key figure in the January 6 House committee investigation into the insurgency when former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified in a public hearing that Ornato had described to her an incident inside the SUV armored car carried by Trump on Jan. 6, 2021. Hutchinson said Ornato described Trump lunging at the driver and insisted they go to the Capitol, where his supporters were gathering. Hutchinson’s account has been disputed by some people familiar with the matter.
His departure from the Secret Service comes amid other high-level changes at the agency. James Murray announced his retirement as director last month, before the congressional uproar over the missing Secret Service text messages of January 6 became public. President Joe Biden last week nominated Kim Cheatle to succeed Murray.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a member of the Jan. 6 committee, said in an interview Sunday on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that the panel was looking into the missing text messages and could probably “get answers to that” when it resumes public hearings next month.
Ornato has already testified before the House panel behind closed doors, according to an aide.