The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is nearing its endpoint. The bipartisan panel is expected to release a final report next month, at which point Republicans will take control of the House and attention will shift to the Justice Department, where the probe is ongoing.
But for a congressional investigation that’s nearly complete, the committee is still seeking answers from some notable figures from Donald Trump’s orbit. Two weeks ago, for example, the panel sat down with Bobby Engel, the lead Secret Service agent for Trump on Jan. 6, who would likely be in a position to shed light on the then-president’s antics.
Yesterday, as NBC News reported, investigators had another chat with an even more high-profile member of the Republican’s team.
Former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway met for nearly five hours Monday with investigators on the House committee probing the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. The committee did not publicly issue Conway a subpoena, and aides refused to comment on whether she was issued one privately. ... Earlier, when Conway left the meeting room for a break, she told reporters, “I’m here voluntarily.” Asked by a reporter when she last spoke with Trump, Conway said he called her last week.
It’s worth emphasizing for context that Conway stepped down from her White House role in August 2020, months before Trump’s defeat and subsequent effort to overturn the election results.
That said, she remained in contact with the Republican White House after her departure, and The Washington Post reported last year that she urged Trump through an intermediary on Jan. 6 to call off the rioters. The D.C. mayor’s office also reportedly reached out to Conway during the attack, hoping she might be able to help pressure the then-president to call up the National Guard to protect the Capitol from the insurrectionists.
What’s more, in the book “The Big Lie” by Jonathan Lemire, Trump reportedly asked Conway how he could’ve lost to President Joe Biden — an important detail to the extent that it helps prove that the Republican acknowledged his defeat in private, even as he lied to the public.
Conway was seen yesterday with attorney Emmet Flood, who also represented Marc Short, a top aide to former Vice President Mike Pence. Flood also reportedly represents Pence himself in the Republican’s dealings with the Justice Department. With this in mind, it seems like a safe bet that Conway’s testimony yesterday — which lasted nearly five hours — helped reinforce what Short and Pence have said.
But Conway almost certainly won’t be the final witness to speak to the committee. The New York Times reported overnight on another key figure who’s scheduled to testify today.
Anthony M. Ornato, the former Secret Service agent and White House aide at the heart of a dispute over conflicting accounts of President Donald J. Trump’s actions during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, is scheduled to be interviewed on Tuesday before the House committee investigating the attack, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Cassidy Hutchinson told the committee over the summer that Ornato told her about Trump going berserk after his pre-riot remarks near the White House on Jan. 6.
The Times added that Secret Service officials “have challenged some aspects of her account, and members of the panel have accused Mr. Ornato of being less than honest with them during a previous interview. Significant new answers from Mr. Ornato could help determine whether the dispute is a legitimate battle over the credibility of Ms. Hutchinson or an attempt to muddy the waters over her testimony, which provided a devastating account of Mr. Trump’s actions on Jan. 6.”