Jan 6 Committee summons Secret Service to review Jan 5-6 texts to receive in January

The House special committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has subpoenaed the US Secret Service to obtain text messages from the time of the attack, the committee said Friday night.

The subpoena comes two days after the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security said the legislature that the Secret Service deleted text messages dated January 5 and January 6, 2021. In a letter to congressional committees, Inspector General Joseph Cuffari said his office had been informed that texts had been deleted as part of a “device replacement program.” But Cuffari told lawmakers the deletions came after he requested the messages as part of an investigation into the agency’s response to the attack on the Capitol.

The intelligence agency has denied maliciously deleting the messages, claiming instead some data was lost during a pre-planned system migration.

In a letter to the Secret Service, Jan. 6 special committee chairman Bennie Thompson said the committee had spent months obtaining documents from Department of Homeland Security departments related to the Jan. 5-7 events.

He acknowledged that the committee was informed that the deleted text messages were part of a “device replacement program.”

However, Thompson pointed out that in a July 14 statement, the Secret Service said that although the “pre-planned three-month system migration” lost some data, “none of the text it [DHS Office of Inspector General] was looking for had been lost in the migration.”

“Accordingly, the Special Committee is requesting the relevant text messages as well as any follow-up reports issued in all departments of the USSS relating to or in any way connected to the events of January 6, 2021,” the letter reads.

The letter asked for the information to be provided by July 19 at the latest.

Thompson’s letter arrives hours after Cuffari informed Members of the January 6 committee on deleting text messages. Thompson told reporters after the briefing that members “wanted to get the IG’s perspective on what he thought was going on.”

He said the committee was still interested in obtaining the texts and would be contacting Intelligence.

“The communications within the Secret Service that protected the president and vice president during the critical time on Jan. 6 when the violence erupted is of the utmost interest to the committee,” said another panel member, Rep. Elaine Luria, said.

On Thursday, US Secret Service spokesman Steve Kopek called “false the allegation that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages” when asked by the DHS inspector general. He said the agency had “fully cooperated with the OIG in every way – whether it’s interviews, documents, emails or texts”.

Kopek said that in January 2021, before the inspector general’s investigation began, the Secret Service “began to factory reset its cell phones as part of a pre-planned three-month system migration.”

“Data stored on some phones was lost in the process,” he said.

The agency said Thursday that the Secret Service turned over 786,176 undredacted emails and 7,678 chat messages from Microsoft Teams to the DHS Inspector General, all relating to conversations and operational details surrounding Jan. 6 and the preparations obtain in advance. These messages include text messages from the US Capitol Police to the Chief of the Uniformed Division of Secret Service requesting emergency assistance at the Capitol.

Ellis Kim contributed to the coverage.

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