Secret Service discovers records of potential deleted Jan 6 text messages on phones of 10 agents, report

Prior to being told to halt its probe into text messages by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Secret Service investigators reportedly found records on the phones of 10 Secret Service agents containing metadata that shows texts were sent and received around January 6, 2021, but were subsequently discarded after the DHS inspector general requested they be produced.

As American Wire reported, the DHS OIG first asked for electronic communications from the Secret Service on February 26, 2021, after the agency had begun resetting its cell phones to factory settings “as part of a pre-planned, three-month system migration,” during which data was lost.

While Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and the House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6, characterized the Secret Service’s inability to produce only one text as an “extraordinarily troubling destruction of records” and vowed to “respond accordingly,” U.S. Secret Service Chief of Communication Anthony Guglielmi insisted the agency was, in fact, cooperating with the DHS.

“The insinuation that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages following a request is false,” he stated. “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.”

In a letter from the DHS OIG dated July 20, the Secret Service was instructed to stop their own investigation into the missing texts, as there was an ongoing criminal investigation, CNN reports.

At the time Secret Service investigators were told to stand down, they were looking into text messages sent by 10 individuals at the agency to see if they contained information relevant to the Jan. 6 investigation and whether or not they should have been preserved, according to CNN sources.

The OIG requested records from 24 individuals — including Robert Engel and Tim Giebels, heads of the details of former President Donald Trump and former VP Mike Pence — in June 2021, “more than two months after the migration had been completed,” CNN writes.

It is not known if the phones of Engel and Giebels are among the 10 discovered by the Secret Service containing metadata with records of deleted texts.

According to CNN’s sources, of the 24 members of the Secret Service whose phones were targeted by the DHS OIG for further investigation, three contained nothing but personal messages and 10 had no text messages from around Jan. 6.

On July 15, Thompson wrote a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray, demanding that all relevant texts and after action reports issued “in any and all division” that are in any way related to the Capitol Hill events be produced, American Wire reported.

Members of the House select committee point to a letter dated January 16, 2021, from congressional committees to the FBI and the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis among other agencies directing them to preserve records that relate to Jan. 6 and claim the Secret Service should have done more to preserve the records before the scheduled migration began. In an appendix to the letter, Joe Maher, head of the intelligence and analysis office, was told to send the request to relevant DHS components.

However, after an eight-hour search, Guglielmi told CNN that no such letter was ever received by the Secret Service.

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