Two Secret Service agents were close to Trump and seen as his enablers, said Carol Leonnig.
The agents plan to dispute part of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony regarding Trump, said Leonnig.
Many in Trump's detail cheered the Capitol riot, said Leonnig, whose book covers the Secret Service.
Two top members of former President Donald Trump's personal security detail were "very, very close" to Trump and are "viewed as being aligned" with him, said Carol Leonnig, a long-time investigative reporter at The Washington Post.
Leonnig is the author of the book "Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service" and co-author of "I Alone Can Fix It," which delves into Trump's final year as president.
Leonnig told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday evening that many Secret Service agents in Trump's detail were also rooting for President Joe Biden's failure, and used their social media accounts to "cheer on the insurrection" at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Video: Scenes from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot hearings
"There was a very large contingent of Donald Trump's detail, who were personally cheering for Biden to fail, and some of them even took to their personal media accounts to cheer on the insurrection and the individuals riding up to the Capitol as patriots," Leonnig said. "That is problematic."
"I'm not saying that Tony Ornato or Bobby Engel did that, but they are viewed as being aligned with Donald Trump, which cuts against them," she added.
"However, if they testify under oath: 'This is what happened,' I think that's going to be important because Cassidy Hutchinson can only say what she heard happened," Leonning continued.
Here is our conversation with @CarolLeonnig , who literally wrote the book on the Secret Service, about the questions surrounding Cassidy Hutchinson's recounting of the story of Donald Trump lunging for the steering wheel when he found out he wasn't going to the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/LYB8zGdvtp
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) June 29, 2022
Ornato and Engel, both Secret Service agents, have been central to one component of a bombshell testimony by Hutchinson, a former top White House aide, about Trump's behavior in the days leading up to and during the Capitol riot.
Hutchinson said that Ornato, who ran White House security, informed her that Engel, the head of Trump's detail, was with Trump in an armored SUV on January 6, 2021.
According to her testimony, Trump told Engel that he wanted to be taken to the Capitol, but the agent refused to take him there for safety reasons.
She said Trump was enraged by the refusal and that he lunged for the steering wheel, prompting Engel to grab Trump's arm and tell him to take his hand off the wheel. Hutchinson said that Trump then lunged at Engel, although the altercation eventually ended, and Trump was taken to the West Wing.
Notably, the incident involving the steering wheel was only one in a range of events that Hutchinson described under oath, some of which she witnessed herself.
Leonnig told MSNBC that Ornato was viewed as "so pro-Trump" that he was suspected by one of former Vice President Mike Pence's top aides as someone who would "try to whisk Vice President Pence away from the Capitol at a critical moment."
At the time of the riot, Pence was in the Capitol and set to certify the 2020 election votes that would put Biden in the White House.
"Bobby Engel and Tony Ornato were very, very close to President Trump, and some people accuse them of at times being enablers, and yes-men of the President," Leonnig said. "Particularly Tony Ornato."
She described them as "people who wanted to do what he wanted and see him pleased," adding that they frustrated other agents who were more focused on "security or being independent or good planning."
"So both of these individuals lose a little credibility because of how closely they have been seen as aligned to Donald Trump," Leonnig added.
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