The US Secret Service on Saturday denied the January 6 committee’s allegations that it deliberately erased messages from the Capitol riots day. The House panel had subpoenaed the federal agency on Friday night for the texts.
The House committee’s chairman Bennie Thompson said that the panel understands the messages had been “erased.”
“The USSS erased text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, as part of a ‘device-replacement program,’” Thompson said late Friday.
He added that the panel “seeks the relevant text messages, as well as any after action reports that have been issued in any and all divisions of the USSS pertaining or relating in any way to the events of January 6, 2021.”
The Secret Service, however, said that it was following proper procedures and erasing the messages was ‘in adherence to protocols of the device-replacement program’.
Agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said, “The insinuation that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages following a request is false. In fact, the Secret Service has been fully cooperating with the OIG in every respect — whether it be interviews, documents, emails, or texts.”
Guglielmi further added that resetting mobile devices to factory settings in January 2021 was a ‘part of a pre-planned, three-month system migration’. In that process, some data was lost.
The inspector general has first requested the electronic communications on Feb. 26, “after the migration was well under way,” Guglielmi said.
The Secret Service also said that it has already provided a substantial number of emails and chat messages that included conversations and details related to Jan. 6 to the inspector general.
The committee issued subpoenas hours after a closed briefing from the watchdog for Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service.