The House January 6 committee’s focus on US Secret Service witnesses is intensifying, as the panel has conducted two additional interviews over the last two days, including one with the onetime head of former Vice President Mike Pence’s security detail, multiple sources told CNN.
The committee is also expected to interview at least another half dozen Secret Service witnesses in the coming weeks, including current and former officials and agents, the sources said.
On Thursday, the panel heard from the former head of Pence’s security detail, Tim Giebels, according to a source familiar with the matter, underscoring the committee’s continued interest in learning more about what the Secret Service knew about threats to the then-vice president ahead of the US Capitol attack.
CNN has reached out to Giebels for comment.
The committee also interviewed John Gutsmiedl, a former Secret Service agent, on Wednesday, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Gutsmiedl served as the assistant special agent in charge for the Secret Service’s Presidential Protection Division before retiring in July 2021, overseeing one of the teams responsible for protecting then-President Donald Trump on the day of the January 6, 2021, attack.
Reached by phone, Gutsmiedl told CNN he had no comment.
CNN reported on Monday that the panel spoke with current USSS spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, who provided the committee with details related to how the Secret Service responded to public testimony by former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson earlier this summer, according to a source familiar with the panel’s line of questioning.
Together, the flurry of interviews this week, including two that have not been previously reported, shows how the panel is ratcheting up its push to secure testimony from an expanding list of current and former Secret Service agents and officials during its closing months.
The January 6 committee declined to comment.
CNN previously reported that the committee was interested in speaking with Giebels as part of its renewed focus on the Secret Service and sources familiar with the investigation told CNN that he is considered one of the most important names on the panel’s growing list of witnesses.
As head of Pence’s detail on January 6, Giebels was with the then-vice president, who spent several hours in a loading dock underneath the Capitol during the riot. Giebels tried to convince Pence to leave the Capitol, given his proximity to rioters who were making threats against him. A former key aide to Pence previously tested to the committee that Pence did not want to leave the Capitol.
“When we got down to the secure location, Secret Service directed us to get into the cars, which I did. And then I noticed that the vice president had not,” former Pence counsel Greg Jacob tested on June 16. “The head of his Secret Service detail, Tim, had said, ‘I assure you we’re not going to drive out of the building without your permission.’ And the vice president had said something to the effect of, ‘Tim, I know you. I trust you. But you’re not the one behind the wheel.’”
“And the vice president did not want to take any chance that the world would see the vice president of the United States fleeing the United States Capitol. He was determined that we would complete the work that we had set out to do that day,” Jacob added.
Evidence presented by the committee shows just how close Pence and his family came to the rioters, as some who stormed the Capitol shouted, “hang Mike Pence” after Trump tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done ” and stop the election certification process. In a previous hearing, the panel played radio traffic from Pence’s detail as they worked to secure a safe path for him during the attack and rioters got within approximately 40 feet of him.
In its October 13 hearing, Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who serves on the committee, said that the Secret Service received alerts of online threats made against Pence ahead of the Capitol insurrection, including that Pence would be “’a dead man walking if he doesn’t do the right thing.’”
The panel also revealed that the Secret Service “was aware of increased chatter focused on Vice President Pence in particular” the day before the attack, on whether Pence would succumb to Trump’s pressure campaign to not certify the 2020 presidential election.
CNN has learned that Pence and his team were never briefed on those threats, according to a source familiar, and only learned of them when they were made public during last month’s hearing. A spokesman for the Secret Service also declined to comment on whether Pence was briefed on threats.
Through documentary footage, Pence is seen assuming an impromptu leadership role from the loading dock as the violence ensued – working with congressional leaders who had been taken to Fort McNair, Capitol security officials and Cabinet officials to coordinate efforts to secure the Capitol.
“I am literally standing with the chief of the US Capitol Police,” Pence said on speakerphone, as Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa listened. “And he just informed me, that their best information is that they believe that the House and the Senate will be able to reconvene in roughly an hour.”
The committee’s interest in Guglielmi – who, unlike the other two witnesses that appeared this week, was not at the agency on January 6 – centers on how the Secret Service responded to Hutchinson’s public testimony.
During the interview, he was asked about how USSS statements following Hutchinson’s testimony were crafted and who was consulted, the source familiar with the panel’s line of questioning said, adding that Guglielmi told the panel they were issued in response to media inquiries.
Guglielmi also told the committee that while he did speak with former Secret Service official Tony Ornato about Hutchinson’s testimony and while Ornato denied telling the former White House aide that Trump lunged at the driver of his presidential motorcade, he was not involved in the crafting or wording of the agency’s statement, the source said.
Ornato has not tested before the committee since appearing in March but his attorney told CNN that he “continues to cooperate” with his investigation. Members of the panel have repeatedly said they will call Ornato back to testify for what will be his third time.
As CNN reported last week, the committee has been wrapping up its review of more than a million pages of Secret Service documents and plans to bring in top agents and officials from the agency to testify in the coming weeks.
This story has been updated with additional details.