January 6 text messages deleted by Secret Service: government watchdog

Secret Service agents deleted text messages exchanged around the time of the Capitol riot, according to a government watchdog who sought communication as part of their January 6 uprising investigation.

The Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General said messages sent between Jan. 5 and 6 were deleted “as part of a device replacement program,” according to a letter to lawmakers dated Wednesday, obtained by the Associated Press.

The messages were deleted after the OIG requested electronic communications between agents during its investigation into the Capitol siege.

Homeland Security personnel were also told that they could not provide records to the Inspector General and any records should first be reviewed by DHS attorneys.

“This review led to weeks-long delays in the OIG’s retrieval of records and created confusion as to whether all records had been produced,” the letter, which was shared with leaders of Parliament and the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said.

Pro-Trump troublemakers break the security circle and infiltrate the US capital.
Pro-Trump troublemakers break the security circle and infiltrate the US capital.
Ken Cedeno / UPI / Shutterstock

The intelligence service in response denied any negligence in deleting the messages.

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

The Secret Service claimed that it launched a pre-planned three-month program to replace staff telephones to improve communication and security across the agency beginning in January 2021.

“In the process, data from some phones was lost,” the agency said.

The OIG did not request communication data until February 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 searching for had been lost during the migration.”

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

“On the contrary, DHS OIG has previously claimed that its staff did not have adequate and timely access to materials due to legal review. DHS has repeatedly and publicly denied this allegation, including in response to OIG’s last two biannual reports to Congress. It is unclear whether why the OIG raises this issue again. “

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

Two sources familiar with the document request told the Washington Post that as many as a third of the agency’s staff had received replacement cell phones at the time of the request, the sources said.

If the old text messages sent on January 5 and January 6, 2021 were not backed up, the information is lost, the newspaper reported. The phone replacement program does not appear to have affected emails.

The deletion, first reported by The Intercept, opens up a new potential channel for questions from Parliament’s select committee examining the capital riots, especially in light of former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s bomb testimony last month before the panel on the former Acts of the President on January 6, 2021.

Hutchinson, who worked for Trump’s last chief of staff, Mark Meadows, claimed in his dramatic testimony that Trump tried to overpower his Secret Service detail and command the president’s SUV in an attempt to join the crowd of his supporters who tried to overturn the election result.

With Post Wire

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