Ornato, who at one point also served as a White House political adviser to Trump, retired Monday “in good standing after 25 years of devoted service,” Kevin Helgert, a special agent at the Secret Service, confirmed in a statement to HuffPost.
In a message to CNN, Ornato said he is leaving the agency to pursue a career in the private sector.
“I long-planned to retire and have been planning this transition for more than a year,” he told the network.
He did not provide any details about his next move but did say that he is not taking up a role with Trump or any of Trump’s businesses.
Ornato’s departure follows Cassidy Hutchinson testifying in June that he personally told the former White House aide about witnessing Trump lunge at a Secret Service agent who refused the president’s request to drive him to the Capitol during the 2021 insurrection.
“The president said something to the effect of, I’m the f-ing president, take me up to the Capitol now. To which [Secret Service agent Bobby Engel] responded, ‘Sir, we have to go back to the West Wing,’” Hutchinson recalled Ornato telling her at the time.
“The president reached up toward the front of the vehicle to grab at the steering wheel. Mr. Engel grabbed his arm and said, ‘Sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel, we’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol,’” Hutchinson continued. “Mr. Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel and when Ornato had recounted the story to me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.”
Hutchinson’s testimony came amid a yearslong investigation by a House select committee into the attack on the Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
Ornato, a longtime Secret Service agent, took a break from his work with the law enforcement body in 2019 to serve as deputy chief of staff for operations at the White House. In this role, which he held for approximately a year, he helped organize Trump’s political rallies and an infamous photo-op in which the then-president held a Bible outside the White House.
This switch from serving as a protective agent to politics was unprecedented at the time. His eventual return to the Secret Service in late 2020 to oversee training would raise questions about agents’ ability to loyally protect then-incoming President Joe Biden due to any political alignments with Trump.