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Secret Service Says It Can’t Recover Deleted Texts From Jan 6

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The U.S. Secret Service has notified the House Jan. 6 committee that the agency can’t retrieve deleted text messages related to the Capitol riot, according to multiple reports. The deletion of the records from Jan. 6, 2021, drew scrutiny from government watchdogs.

The agency, whose officers have been embroiled in the Jan. 6 investigation because of their role shadowing and planning President Donald Trump’s movements that day, told the Committee that it has no new texts to provide Congress relevant to its investigation into the Jan 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and that any other texts its agents exchanged that day were purged, according to a senior official briefed on the matter.

The law enforcement agency, whose agents have been embroiled in the Jan. 6 investigation because of their role shadowing and planning President Donald Trump’s movements that day, is expected to share this conclusion with the Jan. 6 committee in response to its Friday subpoena for texts and other records.

As noted by The Washington Post, many of its agents’ cellphone texts were permanently purged starting in mid-January 2021 and Secret Service officials said it was the result of an agency-wide reset of staff telephones and replacement that it began planning months earlier.

According to a senior official, the agents were reportedly instructed to upload any old text messages involving government business to an internal agency drive before the reset, but many who protected the president, vice president and other senior government leaders, didn’t do so, The Post reported.

The result is that potentially valuable evidence — the real-time communications and reactions of agents who interacted directly with Trump or helped coordinate his plans before and during Jan. 6 — is unlikely to ever be recovered, two people familiar with the Secret Service communications system told the newspaper.

The House select committee issued a subpoena to the U.S. Secret Service on Friday requesting phone, after-action reports and other records relating to that time.

Also, the National Archives on Tuesday sought more information on “the potential unauthorized deletion” of agency text messages. The U.S. government’s chief record-keeper asked the Secret Service to report back to the Archives within 30 days about the deletion of any records, including describing what was purged and the circumstances of how the documentation was lost.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General upended the committee’s investigation last week claiming the Secret Service had “accidentally” erased texts from around Jan. 5 and 6 after his office had requested them as part of his own investigation.

DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, a Trump appointee, briefed members of the House select committee on Friday after sending a letter to lawmakers last week informing them that the text messages were missing.

Cuffari also said DHS officials were delaying turning over information he requested, which Homeland Security officials have denied.