Open Now
Open Now
Watch now

The Secret Service erased texts from January 6

A government watchdog said that Secret Service agents deleted text messages that were sent around the time of the Capitol riot. The watchdog was looking for the messages as part of their investigation into the Jan. 6 uprising.

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General said in a letter to lawmakers on Wednesday that messages sent between January 5 and 6 were deleted "as part of a device-replacement program." The Associated Press got a copy of the letter on Wednesday.

When OIG asked for electronic messages between the agents as part of its investigation into the Capitol siege, the messages were erased.

People who work for Homeland Security were also told that they couldn't give records to the inspector general and that any records would have to be looked over by DHS attorneys first.

The letter, which was sent to the heads of the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees, says, "This review caused OIG to take weeks to get records and made it unclear whether all records had been given."

Pro-Trump rioters breach the security perimeter and penetrate the US Capitol.
Pro-Trump rioters breach the security perimeter and penetrate the US Capitol.
Ken Cedeno/UPI/Shutterstock

The Secret Service, in response, denied any malintent with the erasure of the messages.

“The insinuation that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages following a request is false. In fact, the Secret Service has been fully cooperating with the OIG in every respect — whether it be interviews, documents, emails, or texts,” the federal agency said in a statement, obtained by Politico.

The Secret Service claimed that it launched a pre-planned, three-month program to replace staff phones to improve communications and security across the agency beginning in Jan. 2021.

“In that process, data resident on some phones was lost,” the agency said.

OIG did not request communications data until Feb. 26, 2021, according to the Secret Service.

“The Secret Service notified DHS OIG of the loss of certain phones’ data, but confirmed to OIG that none of the texts it was seeking had been lost in the migration.”

The Secret Service also claimed “DHS OIG’s allegation regarding DHS’s cooperation with its investigation is neither correct nor new. 

“To the contrary, DHS OIG has previously alleged that its employees were not granted appropriate and timely access to materials due to attorney review. DHS has repeatedly and publicly debunked this allegation including in response to OIG’s last two semi-annual reports to congress. It is unclear why OIG is raising this issue again.”

Rioters clash with police trying to enter Capitol building
The Secret Service denied any malintent when the messages were deleted.
Lev Radin/Sipa USA

Two people who knew about the request for documents told the Washington Post that as many as a third of the agency's employees had new cell phones at the time of the request.

The information from the old text messages sent on January 5 and 6, 2021, that were not saved, was lost, the paper said. The program to get a new phone doesn't seem to have affected emails.

The erasure, which was first reported by The Intercept, gives the House select committee investigating the capitol riots a new way to ask questions, especially after former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson gave a bombshell testimony last month about what the former President did on January 6, 2021.

Hutchinson worked for Trump's last chief of staff, Mark Meadows. In her dramatic testimony, she said that Trump tried to overpower his Secret Service detail and take over the presidential SUV to join the crowd of his supporters trying to change the election results.


Follow us on Google News