US Secret Service Deleted Text Messages From Jan 6 Insurrection
By: Ahmed Fathi
The US Secret Service erased text messages exchanged by officers during the January 6 Capitol incident, according to a government watchdog.
In a letter to Congress dated Wednesday, DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari said his office had trouble obtaining Secret Service information for January 5 and 6, 2021.
The texts could be key in House and Justice Department investigations into whether Trump and his advisers supported the fatal insurgency by the former president's supporters at the US Capitol, which intended to prevent Joe Biden from being certified as the November 2020 election winner.
Secret Service agents were with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during the insurrection, as pro-Trump demonstrators called for his execution.
A former White House employee testified before the House January 6 committee on June 29 that Trump sought to force the Secret Service to transport him to the Capitol that day.
Cuffari said in a letter acquired by The Intercept and reported by Politico that numerous USSS text communications were erased on January 5 and 6, 2021.
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"The USSS erased text chats after OIG requested electronic communications records," he said.
He stated the government has stopped giving the OIG other records.
Anthony Guglielmi refuted the inspector general's claim.
He said the agents' phones were removed as part of a replacement program that began six weeks before the OIG asked.
"The Secret Service notified DHS OIG of the loss of some phones' data, but no texts were lost in the move," he said.
Cuffari wrote to the Senate and House Homeland Security Committee chairs.
Representative Bennie Thompson heads the House Homeland Security Committee and the House committee investigating the January 6 incident.
Their research shows that Trump purposefully incited a "coup" attempt.
The Secret Service was criticized for not anticipating armed Trump supporters staging a violent demonstration on January 6.
Top Secret Service official Tony Ornato was Trump's deputy chief of staff at the time.
Ornato dismissed Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony on January 6 that Trump wanted the Secret Service to convey him to the Capitol as his admirers gathered.
Former White House officials support Hutchinson's account.