Secret Service Claims It Can’t Recover Deleted Texts After Jan. 6 Panel’s Subpoena

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 10: A member of the uniter states secret service wearing a face mask stands guard as President Donald J. Trump speaks to supporters from the Blue Room balcony during an event at the White Hou... WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 10: A member of the uniter states secret service wearing a face mask stands guard as President Donald J. Trump speaks to supporters from the Blue Room balcony during an event at the White House on Saturday, Oct 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald J. Trump remains at the White House after testing positive for covid-19. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS

The Secret Service reportedly determined that it is unable to provide deleted texts messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021 to the Jan. 6 Select Committee in response to the panel’s subpoena last week, a senior official briefed on the matter told the Washington Post. The same official also told the Post that any other texts that agents exchanged around the time of the deadly Capitol insurrection were purged.

The agency, however, produced an “initial set of documents” to the committee on Tuesday in response to the panel’s subpoena, CNN reported.

“Our delivery included thousands of pages of documents, Secret Service cell phone use and other policies, as well as operational and planning records,” USSS spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement to CNN.

A senior official told the Post that nearly all of the thousands of records the agency plans to provide have been shared previously with an agency watchdog and congressional committees. None of the records that were produced are expected to shed new light on matters of interest to the committee, an account a senior White House aide described to the Jan. 6 Select Committee, according to the Post.

A Secret Service official told CNN that the document production did not include any of the potentially missing texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021 because the agency is still unable to recover any records that were lost during a phone migration in that time period.

“Any message that was not uploaded by the employee as a government record would have been lost during the migration,” the USSS official told CNN, referring to the agency’s protocol to backup data.

Prior to the phone migration, agency employees were reportedly expected to manually back up their text messages. Any employees who did not take that step would have their texts permanently deleted when their phones were be wiped during the migration, according to CNN.

The Secret Service claims that it is still continuing its efforts to recover any lost messages.

“We continue to scrutinize our records, databases, and archives to ensure full compliance with the Committee’s subpoena,” Guglielmi said in a statement, according to CNN. “We are taking all feasible steps to identify records responsive to the subpoena, to include forensic examinations of agency phones and other investigative techniques.”

The Secret Service reportedly told the committee on Tuesday that it is “currently unaware” of any text messages that were not retained, a source familiar with the Secret Service communication with the committee told CNN.

In addition to the committee investigating the events surrounding Jan. 6, the National Archives on Tuesday requested more information about “the potential unauthorized deletion” of agency text messages, giving the agency 30 days to report back with information about what was purged and what led to the deletion.

News of the deletion of the Secret Service’s text messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021 broke last week, following oversight officials’ request for the agency’s electronic communications. The request was indicated in a letter sent to the Jan. 6 Select Committee.

The letter was initially sent by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS IG) to the House and Senate homeland security committees, according to The Intercept. Although the Secret Service maintained that the messages were deleted from the system as part of a device-replacement program, the letter issued by the DHS IG reportedly said the erasure of the messages occurred shortly after oversight officials requested the agency’s records related to its electronic communications.

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