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Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Secret Service over texts allegedly deleted following Capitol attack

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot subpoenaed the Secret Service Friday night for text messages allegedly erased from around the day of the attack.

Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement Friday evening that the committee has been told the texts were deleted.

“The USSS erased text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, as part of a ‘device-replacement program,’” Thompson said.

The committee “seeks the relevant text messages, as well as any after-action reports that have been issued in any and all divisions of the USSS pertaining or relating in any way to the events of January 6, 2021,” he said.

JAN 6: SECRET SERVICE DELETED TEXTS REQUESTED BY INVESTIGATORS, WATCHDOG REPORT SAYS

The panel sent its letter to USSS Director James Murray, who is scheduled to retire at the end of the month.

The subpoenas were issued just hours after the watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service, gave the Jan. 6 panel a private briefing. The watchdog briefed the committee about allegations the Secret Service scrapped messages from around Jan. 6, 2021.

The committee has not revealed what it had heard, but the closed-door briefing with DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari came two days after his office sent a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Homeland Security committees claiming that Secret Service agents deleted texts from between Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021. 

The messages were reportedly deleted as part of a “device-replacement program,” Cuffari said.

The messages were deleted after the watchdog office requested records from the agents for its investigation into the Capitol riot, according to Caffari’s letter.

JAN 6 COMMITTEE: SECRET SERVICE AGENTS, TRUMP STAFFERS HAVE NOT BEEN CONTACTED AFTER HUTCHINSON ALLEGATIONS

Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., speaks as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol holds a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The committee initially asked for the records in mid-January before making an official request two months later for all communications involving DHS employees between Jan. 5 and Jan. 7, 2021.

Thompson said the panel is looking further into whether records were lost, telling The Associated Press that “There have been some conflicting positions on the matter.”

The Secret Service says proper procedures were followed and that claims of agents scrubbing texts after receiving requests are inaccurate. 

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

JAN. 6 COMMITTEE: TUESDAY’S HEARING TO FOCUS ON THE TRUMP TEAM’S TIES TO FAR-RIGHT EXTREMIST GROUPS 

Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

Guglielmi said the Secret Service had begun resetting its devices to factory settings in January 2021 “as part of a pre-planned, three-month system migration.” He said some records were lost during this process, but that all requested records were delivered.

The spokesman said that the inspector general first sought the texts in late February “after the migration was well under way.” He said none of the requested texts were lost in the migration.

The Secret Service said it has provided a substantial number of communications, including those related to Jan. 6, to the inspector general. Text messages from the Capitol Police asking for assistance on the day of the attack were given to the inspector general’s office, the Secret Service also said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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