Reports: Secret Service Agents Deny Bombshell Claim

But will they testify under oath?
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2022 9:11 AM CDT
Secret Service Agents Deny Bombshell Claim: Reports
Cassidy Hutchinson, former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testifies to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Newser) – Prevented from going to the Capitol with his supporters on Jan. 6, President Trump grabbed the steering wheel of his limousine and lunged at the head of his security detail, a top aide to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows testified Tuesday, relaying that what she said was told to her by Secret Service agent and Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornato. "It's the most damaging political thing we've seen to him yet with these hearings," a longtime adviser tells the Washington Post. But while "the shocking new accusations add to years of reports about his violent temper and abusive outbursts toward advisers and staff," the outlet cites sources as saying three Secret Service agents deny Cassidy Hutchinson's version of events.

One current and one former law enforcement official tell the Post that the agents admit a furious Trump exchanged tense words with an agent but dispute that he tried to grab the steering wheel. Reporters with other outlets say the same. "A source close to the Secret Service tells me both Bobby Engel, the lead agent, and the presidential limousine/SUV driver are prepared to testify under oath that neither man was assaulted and that Mr. Trump never lunged for the steering wheel," reads a tweet from NBC News' chief White House correspondent Peter Alexander. Furthermore, a Secret Service agent tells CNN that Ornato denies having told Hutchinson that Trump grabbed the steering wheel or an agent.

However, WaPo reporter Carol Leonnig, who wrote a book on the Secret Service, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that Ornato and Engel "lose a little credibility because of how closely they have been seen as aligned to Donald Trump," per the Daily Beast. In fact, "some people accused them of at times being enablers and 'yes men' of the president … who wanted to do what he wanted and see him pleased." Still, "if they testify under oath [that] this is what happened, I think that's going to be important, because Cassidy Hutchinson can only say what she heard happened." In a Tuesday statement, the Secret Service said it will be "responding on the record to the Committee." (Read more Jan. 6 hearings stories.)

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