Lauren Moye, FISM News
The Jan. 6 investigation committee and the Secret Service exchanged verbal blows this week over the controversial disappearance of text messages dating from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 of 2021, as the committee continues its efforts to prove former President Donald Trump was the impetus for the Jan. 6 riots.
The accusations involve two different elements: when the text messages were subpoenaed and when they first disappeared.
According to the Secret Service, the “deleted” text messages from those days were part of data lost during a planned migration to new cellular devices.
The controversy began when the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) sent a letter to the select committee on July 13 alleging that there had been “two specific issues” involving the Secret Service that needed to be addressed. The OIG then said that they had received notification that important text messages had been “erased as part of a device-replacement program.”
“The [Secret Service] erased those text messages after OIG requested records of electronic communications,” Inspector General Joseph Cuffari wrote in the letter obtained by CNN.
Cuffari also claimed that the Secret Service was not providing records promptly and in doing so were “creating confusion over whether all records had been produced.”
The Secret Service fired back on Thursday in a public statement that said in part, “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 Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) in every respect – whether it be interviews, documents, emails, or texts,” the statement claimed.
According to the statement, the OIG was informed that some data had been lost on cellphones but “that none of the texts it was seeking had been lost in the migration.” The migration itself had begun in January 2021, long before the first information request from the OIG on Feb. 26.
Regarding the portrayal of being uncooperative, the Secret Service said, “DHS [Department of Homeland Security] has repeatedly and publicly debunked this allegation, including in response to OIG’s last two semi-annual reports to Congress. It is unclear why OIG is raising this issue again.”
However, Cuffari met with the House Select Committee on Friday. That evening, the House subpoenaed the Secret Service for the text message records in light of what one member, Congressman Adam Kissinger (R-Ill.), called “conflicting statements.”
“They claim it was this technological change, ‘we moved everything, we lost these texts.’ And then they also put out a statement, though, that said, ‘we’ve only lost some of the texts and everything relevant to this investigation has been turned over.’ So those are very conflicting statements,” Kissinger told CNN’s Face the Nation on Sunday.
The Secret Service has until Tuesday to hand over the messages. They have signaled they will comply with this deadline.
However, that hasn’t stopped members of the investigation committee from continuing to frame the incident as suspicious.
Kinzinger, an anti-Trump Republican, told CNN that “it’s quite crazy” that the Secret Service would delete anything in connection with such an “infamous day in American history.”
Another member of the panel, Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., told CBS News, “The communications within the Secret Service, who was protecting the president and vice president at the critical time on Jan. 6 when the violence broke out, that’s of the utmost interest to the committee.”
Renewed intrigue in communication from Secret Service members has come in response to former White House aid Cassidy Hutchinson testimony before the committee that she was told that Trump had ordered the Secret Service to take him to the Capitol amidst the riots and had become enraged and lunged at the steering wheel when the driver refused to do so.
The reliability of her testimony has been widely questioned, however, after multiple members of Secret Service and WH officials have volunteered to testify under oath that her account is false.
The select committee has heavily hinted they will not let the matter drop if the text messages do turn out to be missing, whether it was a malicious deletion of information or not.