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Secret Service denies malicious intent after deleting messages related to Jan. 6

"DHS has repeatedly and publicly debunked this allegation... It is unclear why OIG is raising this issue again," the Secret Service said

Published: July 14, 2022 10:02pm

Updated: July 14, 2022 10:38pm

The Secret Service denied deleting Jan. 6-related text messages with malicious intent after the Department of Homeland Security inspector general accused the agency of deleting some of the messages after a records request.

In a letter, published by CNN on Thursday, to the leaders of both the Senate and the House Homeland Security Committees, DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari wrote, "First, the Department notified us that many U.S. Secret Service (USSS) text messages, from January 5 and 6, 2021, were erased as part of a device-replacement program."

The watchdog head stated that the Secret Service "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."

Cuffari also noted, "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. This review led to weeks-long delays in OIG obtaining records and created confusion over whether all records had been produced."

Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of both the House Homeland Security Committee and the Jan. 6 committee, promised that the Capitol riot panel "will be briefed about this extraordinarily troubling destruction of records and respond accordingly."

Secret Service Communications Chief Anthony Guglielmi vehemently defended the agency in a press release Thursday after the letter was published.

"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 Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) in every respect – whether it be interviews, documents, emails, or texts," he wrote, going on to explain that the some phone data was lost during a pre-planned technology system change over the course of three months. 

"DHS OIG requested electronic communications for the first time on Feb. 26, 2021, after the migration was well under way. The Secret Service notified DHS OIG of the loss of certain phones’ data, but confirmed to OIG that none of the texts it was seeking had been lost in the migration," the communications chief stated.

"Second, DHS OIG’s allegation regarding DHS’s cooperation with its investigation is neither correct nor new. To the contrary, DHS OIG has previously alleged that its employees were not granted appropriate and timely access to materials due to attorney review," he said. "DHS has repeatedly and publicly debunked this allegation, including in response to OIG’s last two semi-annual reports to Congress. It is unclear why OIG is raising this issue again."

Earlier in the day, a Secret Service official told Congress that the inspector general was investigating the testimony of former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson to the Jan. 6 committee.

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