U.S. Secret Service text messages sent on the day the U.S. Capitol was breached were deleted, a watchdog said this week.
A number of texts from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, “were erased as part of a device-replacement program,” Joseph Cuffari, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, told lawmakers in a July 13 letter was obtained by The Epoch Times.
The department, or DHS, is the Secret Service’s parent agency.
The deletions were done after Cuffari’s office (OIG) requested the records as part of its evaluation of the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to Cufarri, a Trump appointee.
Anthony Guglielmi, chief of communications for the Secret Service, said in a statement that “the insinuation that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages following a request is false.”
The service in January 2021 started resetting mobile phones to factory settings as part of a pre-planned system migration, according to Guglielmi. In the process, data on some phones was lost.
“DHS OIG requested electronic communications for the first time on Feb. 26, 2021, after the migration was well under way. The Secret Service notified DHS OIG of the loss of certain phones’ data, but confirmed to OIG that none of the texts it was seeking had been lost in the migration,” the spokesman said.
Cuffari said that personnel from across DHS told inspectors from his office that they could not provide records directly to OIG without a review by government attorneys. That has led to a weeks-long delay in the watchdog obtaining records “and created confusion over whether all records had been produced,” he said.
Guglielmi challenged that allegation, saying the Secret Service has been fully cooperating.
The DHS did not respond to a request for comment.
Cuffari’s letter went to the chairmen and ranking members of the House of Representatives and Senate committees for homeland security.