Transcripts of depositions released by the House Select Committee on Jan. 6 show that Secret Service briefed White House leaders after Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was admitted to the 18-acre compound for a tour.
Mr. Tarrio, currently on trial for seditious conspiracy related to his group’s alleged role in the worst attack on the Capitol since 1814, participated in a tour of the Executive Building on Dec. 12, 2020, the same day he vandalized a Black Lives Matter sign of setting it on fire after stealing it from a black church.
At the time, his status as chairman of the pro-Trump extremist group was widely known, and a January 6 House committee transcript of an interview with former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Tony Ornato showed his entry into the White House grounds. and passed on to agents about then-President Donald Trump’s protective details by the Secret Service’s Protective Intelligence Division.
A Secret Service supervisor forwarded the e-mail noting Mr. Tarrio’s visit to Mr. Ornato, who was a special Secret Service agent who had been assigned to the Executive Office of the President as Deputy White House Chief of Staff for operations.
The email informed him that the Intelligence Joint Operations Center had been notified of Mr. Tarrio’s participation in a tour of the White House that morning.
“The individual is the leader of the Proud Boys. There is no known media coverage at this point,” she said.
When questioned by the commission’s investigators, Mr. Ornato claimed that he was unaware of who Mr. Tarrio at the time, but he claimed to have learned of it at the time of his meeting with the commission.
“And, at the time, probably – I didn’t know – I wasn’t aware of all the bands and everything then, since I know them better now. However, if it had been communicated to me that that particular person was that person, I would have informed the chief of staff that this had occurred that day,” he told her.
In late 2020, the violent all-male extremist group led by Tarrio was well known for its appearances at pro-Trump rallies and protests across the United States.
And the Dec. 12, 2020 tour that Mr. Tarrio attended was months after Mr. Trump personally urged the group to “stand back and watch” during his first debate with Joe Biden.
Asked if he knew who the Proud Boys were as a group at the time, Mr. Ornato told the judging panel, “I don’t remember.”
“There were so many groups. I mean, I could have known at the time. I just don’t remember this specific group… I don’t remember all the groups I knew or didn’t know,” he said, although he managed to recall the name of the leftist group known as “Code Pink”.
Mr. Ornato was also asked about another email sent 20 minutes later among members of Mr. Trump’s protective detail asking why it was not brought to the attention of Mr. Trump’s detail that Mr. Tarrio had been admitted to the House White.
But under cross-examination, he told the jury that he did not recall speaking about Mr. Tarrio’s admission to anyone.