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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Watchdog: Secret Service Deleted Text Messages

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Letter, which was 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 supervisory authorities require the agency to provide records relating to their 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 assessment of the events at the Capitol on January 6,” said letter from DHS IG Joseph Cuffari show.

“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.”

The Homeland Security Inspector General did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The US Secret Service denied the allegations in a statement, saying that “the suggestion that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages upon request is untrue. In fact, The Secret Service has fully cooperated with OIG in every way – whether it’s interviews, documents, emails or text messages.”

The statement continued then: “DHS OIG first requested electronic communication on February 26, 2021, after the move was going well. Secret Service notified DHS OIG about the move. the data loss of a phone number, but confirmed to OIG that none of the text it was looking for was lost in the exodus.”

Senator Gary Peters, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, called the allegations “relevant” in a statement Thursday. “We need to dig deep into whether the Secret Service destroyed federal records or the Department of Homeland Security impeded surveillance. DHS Inspector General needs these records to conduct independent and public surveillance. they deserve a full picture of what happened January 6,” the Michigan Democrat said.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, chaired both the House Homeland Security committees and January 6. He acknowledged in a statement Thursday night that the panel received the letter.

“The Homeland Security Committee received a letter from the DHS Inspector General regarding the Secret Service’s deletion of text messages requested by the Office of the Inspector General as part of its investigation into the attack on… January 6 into the Capitol,” Thompson said. “The committee will be briefed on the destruction of this extraordinary troubling record and respond accordingly.”

While the letter did not say whether watchdog DHS believes the text messages were deleted intentionally or for nefarious reasons, the case raises questions about the Secret Service’s response to the call. Attack on the US Capitol.

The Secret Service has been in the spotlight ever since witnesses described how former President Donald Trump angry asking for his details took him to the Capitol after his speech at the White House Ellipse – just before rioters broke into the building.

A former adviser to then-Vice President Mike Pence also mentioned the Secret Service in his testimony. Greg Jacob, Pence’s former adviser, told the panel that Pence refused to board the vice president’s car after being evacuated from the Capitol, raising concerns that the driver would take him to a safe location. security and thus prevent him from certifying the election results.

More than a year after the riots, the Homeland Security inspector general’s review of the Secret Service and its actions on January 6 is still ongoing.

This story was updated with additional developments on Thursday.

CNN’s Whitney Wild and Hannah Rabinowitz contributed to this report.

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I am passionate about journalism and using new technology to spread news. I am also interested in politics and economics, and I am always looking for ways to make a difference in the world. I am the CEO of Janaseva News, and I am 24 years old.

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