US National Archives asks probe into deleted texts between Jan 5,6
Deleting messages has raised the prospect of lost evidence that could shed more light on Trump’s actions during the Capitol riot.
The chief records of the National Archives, Laurence Brewer, has requested that the US Secret Service investigate the possible unauthorized deletion of text messages on telephones belonging to the agency between January 5 and 6, 2021, the period during which Republican riots stormed the White House in attempt to overturn the election results.
In an e-mail sent by Brewer, it was written, "If it is determined that any text messages have been improperly deleted ... then the Secret Service must send NARA a report within 30 calendar days of the date of this letter with a report documenting the deletion."
"This report must include a complete description of the records affected, a statement of the exact circumstances surrounding the deletion of messages, a statement of the safeguards established to prevent further loss of documentation, and details of all agency actions taken to salvage, retrieve, or reconstruct the records."
The request comes days after the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security told 2 congressional committees that many text messages pertaining to the Secret Service between January 5 and 6 were erased by the Secret Service themselves.
The House select committee looking into the Capitol riots has issued a subpoena to the US Secret Service demanding records, including text messages.
Anthony Guglielmi, the spokesman for the Secret Service, announced on Twitter that the agency will comply with NARA's request.
"The United States Secret Service respects and supports the important role of the National Archives and Records Administration in ensuring preservation of government records. They will have our full cooperation in this review," Guglielmi said Tuesday.
The inspector general sent a letter to the heads of the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees, justifying the deletion of messages as they were erased "as part of a device-replacement program." This comes although the inspector general asked for such communications to be saved.
During the day of the revolt, Secret Service agents were with Trump, as well as Vice President Mike Pence, who went into hiding at the Capitol when pro-Trump rioters shouted for his execution.
On June 29, a former White House worker testified to the House January 6 probe that Trump tried to force the Secret Service to send him to the Capitol to join his supporters that day.
"The Department notified us that many US Secret Service (USSS) text messages, from January 5 and 6, 2021, were erased as part of a device replacement program," Cuffari wrote in the letter first reported by The Intercept and later published by Politico.
"The USSS erased those text messages after OIG requested records of electronic communications" for a review of January 6, he said, referring to the Office of the Inspector General. Furthermore, he said that the agency had paused in providing other records to the OIG.