The U.S. Secret Service just barely fulfilled the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s demand for a month’s worth of texts sent and received by 24 Secret Service members, according to a letter from the agency to the House Jan. 6 Committee.
The letter (which was obtained by CNN) was written by Ronald Rowe, the assistant director for the Office of Intergovernmental and Legislative Affairs at the Secret Service, who informed the Jan. 6 panel that the agency had handed over one text exchange in response to Inspector General Joseph Cuffari’s request.
Cuffari had asked the Secret Service to hand over texts to and from 24 Secret Service personnel between the dates of Dec. 7, 2020 and Jan. 8, 2021, according to Rowe’s letter to the committee.
“The Secret Service submitted the responsive records it identified, namely, a text message conversation from former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund to former Secret Service Uniformed Division Chief Thomas Sullivan requesting assistance on January 6, 2021, and advised the agency did not have any further records responsive to the DHS OIG’s request for text messages,” Rowe wrote.
The 24 Secret Service personnel are not identified in the letter, according to CNN.
Rowe told the committee that all Secret Service employees are responsible for “appropriately preserving government records that may be created via text messaging,” and were responsible for doing so before the agency’s phone migration (transferring data between devices) began on Jan. 27 last year.
Rowe said that the agency was “currently unaware” of texts requested by Cuffari that “were not retained” but will continue to investigate whether more could be found.
“The Secret Service continues to engage in extensive efforts to further assess whether any relevant text messages sent or received by 24 individuals identified by the DHS OIG were lost due to the Intune migration and, if so, whether such texts are recoverable,” he wrote.
“These efforts include the pulling of any available metadata to determine what, if any, texts were sent or received on the devices of the identified individuals,” he added.
CNN’s report on the letter comes amid heightened scrutiny over the Secret Service’s handling of its text records that were received and sent on the day before and the day of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Cuffari sent a letter to the House and Senate homeland security committees last week telling them that the Secret Service had deleted texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021 after oversight officials had requested them. The Jan. 6 committee has subpoenaed the Secret Service for the texts as well.
But the Secret Service has determined that it can’t recover the texts that were apparently lost during the agency’s phone migration, a senior official told the Washington Post.
Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Tuesday that the agency had handed over “thousands of pages of documents, Secret Service cell phone use and other policies, as well as operational and planning records” to the Jan. 6 panel that day in response to the subpoena.
However, none of those records included the requested Jan. 5 and 6 texts, and the senior official who spoke to the Post said that almost all the documents the Secret Service planned on handing over had already previously been provided to committees.
Now the National Archives is trying to get to the bottom of the missing texts: On Tuesday, the agency sent a letter to the Secret Service demanding an investigation into the matter.