Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the committee, wrote in a letter Friday to Secret Service Director James Murray that the panel is looking into the agency’s text messages. Secret Service from January 5 and 6, 2021, and reiterated three previous congressional requests for information. committees.
“The Selection Committee has been informed that the USSS has deleted the text messages between January 5 and 6, 2021 as part of a ‘device replacement program.’ In a statement issued July 14, 2022, the USSS stated that it ‘has begun resetting its mobile phones to factory settings as part of a pre-planned system migration, lasted 3 months. During that process, data resident on some phones was lost.’ However, according to that USSS statement, ‘there was no text on it. [DHS Office of Inspector General] Thompson wrote.
“Accordingly, the Selection Committee seeks relevant text messages, as well as any post-action reports that have been issued in any and all parts of the relevant or related USSS. in any way up to the events of January 6, 2021,” he continued.
Earlier on Friday, Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari told the committee during a press conference that the Secret Service had not conducted its own post-action review regarding January 6. and chose to rely on the inspector general’s investigation, according to a source familiar with the meeting. The Secret Service, Cuffari told the panel, did not fully cooperate with his investigation.
Thompson confirmed the inspector general’s remarks about the lack of cooperation, telling CNN, “Well, they didn’t cooperate fully” and that the panel “had limited engagement with the Secret Service.”
“We’ll be following up with some additional engagements now that we’ve met with IG,” he said, adding that the panel will be working “to try to determine if those texts are valid.” recoverable or not.”
The letter, originally sent to the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees by the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General, said the messages were removed from the system as part of a device replacement program. after the watchdog requested the agency to provide records relating to its electronic communications.
“First, the Department informed us that multiple U.S. Secret Service text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, were deleted as part of a device replacement program. USSS deleted those text messages after the OIG requested a record of electronic communications from the USSS, as part of our review of the events at the Capitol on January 6,” Cuffari stated in the letter.
“Secondly, DHS staff have repeatedly told OIG inspectors that they are not authorized to provide records directly to OIG and that such records must first be reviewed by DHS attorneys.” Cuffari added. “This review has resulted in weeks-long delays in OIG’s collection of records and created confusion as to whether all records have been generated.”
A DHS official provided CNN with a schedule of when IG was notified by the Secret Service of the missing information due to the data transfer. In a statement Thursday night, the Secret Service said the IG first requested the information on February 26, 2021, but did not specify when the agency acknowledged the issue.
According to the DHS official, the Secret Service notified IG of the migration issue several times, beginning on May 4, 2021, then again on December 14, 2021, and in February 2022.
In a statement Thursday night, the Secret Service said the inspector general’s accusations of lack of cooperation were “not true nor new.”
“Conversely, DHS OIG has previously alleged that its employees were not granted appropriate and timely access to the documents as a result of an attorney review. DHS has repeatedly and publicly denied the allegation. This includes the OIG’s last two semi-annual reports to Congress. It is not clear why the OIG brought up this issue,” the statement said.
The January 6 committee members expressed concern after their meeting with Cuffari about the different version of events between the inspector general and the Secret Service and stressed that they wanted to hear from the agency itself.
“We now have IG’s view of what happened. Now we need to talk to the Secret Service. And our expectation is to contact them directly,” Thompson said. , Thompson said at the time. “One of the things we had to make sure was what the Secret Service was saying and what IG was saying, that those two issues were in fact one and the same. And so now we have it, we’ll ask for physical information. And we’ll make our own decisions.”
This story was updated with additional details on Friday.
CNN’s Jamie Gangel, Whitney Wild and Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.