The Jan. 6 committee released another trove of transcripts on Friday.
The panel published interviews from 21 witnesses including Ginni Thomas, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory-touting spouse of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; former Secret Service agent and White House aide Tony Ornato; Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani; and several other figures who factored prominently in key themes underpinning the investigation of former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Transcripts released on Friday are available below. Highlights and recaps from key transcripts will be updated in this post.
- Patrick Byrne,former 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
- Part I (April)
- Part II (April continued)
- 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 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.
- Ornato said he could not recall having a conversation with Bobby Engel on Jan. 6 about expectations for Trump’s movements after his speech and whether he would go to the Capitol. This conflicts with the testimony the committee said it received from Engel. Engel said Ornato was in the office. He also came up short when asked if he remembered any conversation about Trump being moved to the Capitol with security.
- Ornato: “From my prior interview with you, | believe it was Cassidy Hutchinson and | had texted, and Cassidy had mentioned that before he got on stage he mentioned to the Chief of Staff that he wanted to go to the Capitol. And my response was -- there was no plan for it, so my response was it wasn't happening, it's not safe to do so because there's no security assets in place, and that he would -- to go ahead and pass it to Bob Engel because it's -- I said I believe Bobby -- and she said, Engel or Peede? And | said Engel, because that's Bob Engel's call as the special agent in charge. And I'm not at the venue, as we've said, so it's between Robert Engel and it's between Chief of Staff Meadows, but it's his call on security.”
- Ornato testified that he passed a note to Meadows about two Capitol police who were injured and left unconscious after bulletins about it had already started to circulate He wouldn’t have raised alerts about potential weapons or issues with magnetometers, he said, because that wasn’t an issue Meadows wouldn’t typically deal with for events. But police fighting to defend the Capitol, he felt, was significant enough. When he passed the note to Meadows, Meadows was in the White House dining room with Trump. He couldn’t recall whether the TV was on. He had “tunnel vision” on Meadows, he said.
- Ornato said anyone who assaulted police should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The committee notably asked him if he felt that way about those officers who had testified to the committee and were vocal about Jan. 6, like former Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone or the late U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Sicknick died on Jan. 7 after fending off the mob the day before. He suffered multiple strokes and the coroner’s office described his death as “natural causes.” The committee also asked whether he would have any words for Sicknick’s mother.
- “Sir, | haven't spoken with them. |don't know them. |'m very sorry for the loss, like I'm sure the country is,… And | don't believe there should be a loss of life ever, especially in an attack, especially on law enforcement. So, you know, | would mourn with the country in that loss.”
- When asked whether he would have conveyed any of those feelings in real time during the attack after learning of the severity of the assault on police, Ornato said he didn't realize how bad it was at the time.
- Ornato confirmed reporting that now-Vice President Kamala Harris was in fact at the DNC headquarters in Washington when a pipe bomb was discovered there. Another was placed at the RNC headquarters. Both were placed on the night of Jan. 5. In that vein, it remains altogether unclear why Harris was even allowed into the DNC building on Jan. 6.
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the right-wing activist wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, appeared before the committee on September 29, 2022. She did not testify under oath. For more than 100 pages, her testimony overwhelming takes the position that her outreach to White House officials like Mark Meadows was wholesome and the byproduct of her concerns over fraud in the 2020 election. To that end, however, she was unable to provide the committee with any specific instances of fraud that alarmed her.
“I can't say that I was familiar at that time with any specific evidence. | was just hearing it from news reports and friends on the ground, grassroots activists who were inside of various polling places that found things suspicious. So I don't know. I was not an expert of the fraud and irregularities that were starting to be talked about,” she testified.
- Thomas said at the top of her interview with the committee that she still had concerns about fraud in the 2020 election today. When pressed by Rep. Jamie Raskin on what those concerns might be, and especially in light of the more than 60 federal and state courts rejecting allegations of election fraud, she was cagey before her lawyer promptly stepped in to refocus questions.
- “Right. There seems to be a lot of people still moving around, identifying ways that there were -- we'll see. We'll see what happens. | don't know specific instances. But certainly, | think we all know that there are people questioning what happened in 2020, and it takes time to develop an understanding of the facts,” Thomas said.
- Thomas said too that most of her views on election fraud were based on things she had heard, not evidence she reviewed herself. Among all the literature she has consumed about the outcome of the election, she testified that she had not read the report, “Lost, Not Stolen” penned by a litany of prominent conservative professors, lawmakers, lawyers, and others.
- Thomas threaded the needle carefully when discussing her text messages to Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff. Text messages obtained by the committee showed Thomas sending Meadows a flurry of missives in the days and weeks after the election and the insurrection at the Capitol. She pushed conspiracy theories about rigged voting machines and, as she labeled it in her interview with the committee, she “emoted” regularly when chatting with Meadows about the desperate need to keep Republicans, and Trump, in power. In a Jan. 10 text, Thomas told Meadows she was “disgusted” with then-Vice President Mike Pence.
- “Right, I appreciate your question. I believe looking back, that I was frustrated that I thought VIce President Pence might concede earlier than what President Trump was inclined to do. And I wanted to hear Vice President Pence talk more about the fraud and irregularities in certain states that I thought was still lingering,” she said. “And so, I was frustrated with the vice president for not sounding the same, in the same thematic way.”
- When it came to Jan. 6, however, she said, she wasn’t “focused on the Vice President’s role on Jan. 6” but only hoped there would be a “robust discussion” of state fraud that had surfaced. Pence “probably” did all he could that day she said.
- Thomas also said that her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, was unaware she was exchanging messages with Meadows. He didn't learn about it, she claimed, until March when it was reported in the press. Curiously, Thomas also claimed her husband wasn’t interested in politics and knew little of her political activism. But during her testimony, she appeared to contradict herself saying that she did have at least one conversation with him about the 2020 election.
Committee: And then you responded [to Mark Meadows] just a few minutes later, ‘Thank you. Needed that, this plus a conversation with my best friend just now. I will try to keep holding on.’”
And you sent that message at a little before 11 p.m. on the 24th.
Do you recall who you were referring to when you said you had just had a conversation with your best friend?
Thomas: It looks like my husband.
Committee: Do you remember what you talked to Justice Thomas about that made you feel better and allowed you to, ‘keep holding on’?
Thomas: I wish I could remember, but I have no memory of the specifics. My husband often administers spousal support to the wife that’s upset. So I assume that’s what it was. I don’t have a specific memory of it.
Committee: What makes you think now, as you read, that you’re referring to your husband when you say, ‘my best friend’?
Thomas: Because that’s what I call him and he is my best friend. Mark is getting pretty close though.
Rudy Giuliani served as Trump’s personal attorney and spearheaded the fake elector bid central to the former president’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He was first retained by Trump as his personal lawyer in 2018.
Giuliani appeared under subpoena for his deposition on May 20, 2022. He frequently invoked attorney-client privilege when facing questions from investigators. Giuliani said he had expected from long before the election that it would be rigged against Trump, echoing much of the same propaganda he peddled religiously in public view in 2020. What first triggered him, he said, was a public remark from Hillary Clinton in August of that year. She anticipated that Republicans would make an issue of absentee and mail-in voting and urged now-President Joe Biden not to concede until every ballot was accounted for.
- Giuliani: “And | was very suspicious of Hillary's comment that you shouldn't concede no matter what the vote is. That triggered in my mind, given my evaluation of her character, which is a person who is unscrupulous, that she was telling Biden, we got a plan to get you through, so don't worry even if you're five or six points behind, or more.”
- The former president’s personal attorney also expressed strong opinions about Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager. When Stepien testified before the committee he told them he was part of “Team Normal,” or among the few people on the campaign or in the White House who knew and understood that Trump had lost the election and had informed Trump of this fact to no avail. Then there was “Team Giuliani,” which included Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis and others on the so-called “Kraken” beat. Giuliani, who already has a history of unloading on Stepien publicly, told the committee he was shocked Trump ever selected him. Giuliani appeared to corroborate Stepien’s testimony that he avoided Giuliani and wanted to stay away from the craziness he brought to the table. Giuliani said when Stepien dealt with him directly, he “seemed to be somewhat frightened” of him.
- Giuliani’s grasp of the Constitution or how electoral laws actually function remained tenuous in his interview as he spoke at length about the unfair judges or hearings he felt Trump received when litigating the election outcome. He misspoke often, confusing or misstating the role of the House of Representatives with state electors and vice versa.
- According to testimony from Christina Bobb, another Trump campaign attorney, Senator Lindsey Graham once urged Giuliani to show him proof, any proof, even a small amount of concrete proof that voter fraud was widespread. “Just show me five dead voters,” Graham said, and he would “champion that.” When Giuliani testified before the select committee, he said that information was “impossible to verify” because they couldn’t obtain the voter list.
- Giuliani also insisted that his remark on the stage at the Ellipse on Jan. 6 about having ‘trial by combat’ wasn’t meant to provoke violence. (“Let's have trial by combat! I'm willing to stake my reputation. The President is willing to stake his reputation!”)
- ”I wanted the two machines, a legitimate machine, and the Dominion machine, put up against each other and both count the votes, and if their machine works properly, I'll apologize, but if it doesn't, they'll go to jail. And that -- and that thing was taken out of context like | was trying to provoke violence. And, as the judge noted, no one even got upset about it when I said it. They probably didn't even understand what | was talking about.”
- The former New York City mayor was also admittedly nervous when broaching questions from investigators about discussions he, Sidney Powell, Patrick Byrne, Michael Flynn, Trump, and others had about potentially seizing voting machines through executive order in mid-December 2020. Telling the committee he didn’t want to violate attorney-client privilege over the “very sensitive” matter, he still managed to badmouth Powell.
- “I’ve had a very bad experience with Sidney, because she started out as part of our team and she would make allegations, then she wouldn't give us the basis for it. Then our team would have to go out and try to defend it as best we could. And then it would turn out to be exaggerated, not necessarily false but unsupported,” he said.
- At the meeting at the White House on Dec. 18, Powell provided Giuliani with 12 affidavits that she said proved international interference in the voting machines and would justify getting the military involved. Giuliani testified that he didn’t agree with that conclusion and that the affidavits were the product of “one source” that Powell had “found a way of repeating 12 different times through other people.”
- “And I said, I know, Mr. President, you are reluctant to use the military, but this -- I mean, this doesn't even come close. Plus, I think some of these affidavits could be seen as, you know, false affidavits because they're tricky… So I told the President that he could not -- he couldn't possibly sign these. And I said, this would be, number one, this may be the only thing that I know of that you ever did that could merit impeachment. You've been innocent up until now, why don't you stay that way? And he said, well, if you tell me that, no,I don't want to do it.’”
- The meeting at the White House that night erupted into a fierce argument. Giuliani said Mark Meadows and Michael Flynn started in on each other causing things to “become really nasty” but he couldn’t recall specifically what they fought over.
- “I remember Mark saying, ‘That’s really unfair, General, I supported you when only 12 people were supporting you and I believed you, I still believe in you, but it’s really unfair you’re saying that. would have to guess at what it was. So don't -- you know, it was -- sort of the argument was -- |'m going to categorically describe it as you guys are not tough enough. Or maybe I'd put it another way, you're a bunch of pussies. Excuse the expression, but that's -- I'm almost certain the word was used.”