The U.S Secret Service has been under heightened scrutiny for the role the agency played in the January 6 event.
It has come to light that the U.S. Secret Service erased text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, shortly after they were requested by oversight officials investigating the agency’s response to the U.S. Capitol riot.
A letter to the January 6 committee investigating the insurrection indicated that messages got erased from the server system as part of a device-replacement program. This happened after the Department of Homeland Security internal watchdog asked the agency for records related to its electronic communications.
This letter was originally sent by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (OIG) to the House and Senate homeland security committees. Though the Secret Service claims that the text messages were lost due to the device-replacement program, the letter stated the data removal occurred after the request for the agency’s communications.
“First, the Department notified us that many U.S. Secret Service text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, were erased as part of a device-replacement program. The USSS erased those text messages after OIG requested records of electronic communications from the USSS, as part of our evaluation of events at the Capitol on January 6,” the letter from DHS IG Joseph Cuffari stated.
“Second, DHS personnel have repeatedly told OIG inspectors that they were not permitted to provide records directly to OIG and that such records had to first undergo review by DHS attorneys,” Cuffari added.
“This review led to weeks-long delays in OIG obtaining records and created confusion over whether all records had been produced.”
The Secret Service was a key player in the explosive congressional hearing into former President Donald Trump’s role in the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in the attempt to prevent the 2020 election results from being certified.
“People need to understand that if Pence had listened to the Secret Service and fled the Capitol, this could have turned out a whole lot worse,” a congressional official not authorized to speak publicly told The Intercept. “It could’ve been a successful coup, not just an attempted one.”
The U.S. Secret Service pushed back on the allegations in a statement, saying that “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 Secret Service has been under scrutiny since witnesses described how Trump angrily demanded his detail to take him to the Capitol following his speech at the White House Ellipse, shortly before rioters breached the building.