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Secret Service gave one text message thread to Jan. 6 probe in subpoena response


A member of the US Secret Service speaks on a cellphone as US President-elect Donald Trump attends meetings on the US Capitol in Washington, DC, November 10, 2016.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

The U.S. Secret Service handed over only one text message thread in response to a subpoena issued by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, in line with a letter obtained by NBC News on Wednesday.

That development was revealed by the Secret Service in a letter sent Tuesday, the deadline for the agency handy over a trove of documents related to the revolt, when a violent mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol.

The Secret Service and the select committee didn’t immediately reply to CNBC’s requests for comment.

The select committee issued the subpoena after being informed that Secret Service texts from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 of that yr had been erased in consequence of a “device-replacement program.” The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service, briefed the select panel in regards to the missing texts hours before the subpoena was issued Friday night, news outlets reported.

Read more coverage of the Jan. 6 aftermath

The inspector general, Joseph Cuffari, had previously told congressional committees that the messages had been deleted after his office had asked the Secret Service for electronic communications records tied to the Capitol riot.

Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi pushed back on any suggestion that the agency “maliciously deleted text messages following a request,” saying last week that “the Secret Service has been fully cooperating with the OIG in every respect.” Guglielmi said the Secret Service had began to reset its devices in January 2021as a part of a preplanned “system migration process,” during which era some data was lost.

A senior Secret Service official told NBC News on Wednesday that agency employees had been reminded in two separate emails to preserve records on their mobile devices before that alternative process began.

The letter sent Tuesday, obtained by NBC, said that Homeland Security’s inspector general “specifically requested text messages sent or received by 24 Secret Service personnel in the course of the period of December 7, 2020 through January 8, 2021.”

After receiving that request, the letter said that the Secret Service identified “a text message conversation from former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund to former Secret Service Uniformed Division Chief Thomas Sullivan requesting assistance on January 6, 2021 and advised that the agency didn’t have any further records conscious of [the inspector general’s] request for text messages.”

Some other texts sent by agents around that point are unlikely to be recoverable, multiple outlets have reported.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., one in every of nine members of the select committee, said in an MSNBC interview Tuesday that the panel “got one text message” from the Secret Service. That message is probably not recent, Lofgren said: “It is evident to me, that could be a text message that will have been captured through one other branch of presidency.”

The Secret Service said it has turned over a complete of 10,569 pages of documents by the Tuesday deadline, NBC reported.

“The Secret Service continues to interact in extensive efforts to further assess whether any relevant text messages sent or received by 24 individuals identified by [Cuffari’s office] were lost on account of the Intune migration and, if that’s the case, whether such texts are recoverable,” the letter added.

Meanwhile, the National Archives and Records Administration on Tuesday asked the Secret Service to research the “potential unauthorized deletion” of the texts in query.

The controversy over the text messages comes amid heightened public interest within the Secret Service following the select committee’s public hearings on the Capitol riot, which produced bombshell allegations about Secret Service agents’ involvement within the events of that day.

Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the committee last month that she had heard that Trump, following a preriot rally near the White House, lunged at a Secret Service agent in a vehicle after being told that they’d not drive him to the Capitol.

Trump denied the allegation, and news outlets reported that unnamed Secret Service sources disputed her remarks. But agents with knowledge of the alleged incident have yet to challenge Hutchinson’s claims in sworn testimony before the committee.

The panel’s next public hearing is ready for 8 p.m. ET Thursday.

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