The Secret Service’s claims that the deletion of text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021 were “part of a device-replacement program” raise more questions than answers, especially since copies of the texts had already been requested by the DHS Office of the Inspector General prior to deletion. The missing text messages would have revealed insight into the agency and potentially then-President Trump’s actions on the day of the insurrection.
CREW is suing for communications and directives from the Secret Service Office of Technical Development and Mission Support concerning the three-month system migration, which included a reset begun in January 2021 of the Secret Service’s mobile phones, after the USSS failed to turn over records. This request includes directions on whether and how to preserve text messages and emails. Second, CREW is suing for records of all communications and directives concerning the recordkeeping responsibilities of departing Secret Service employees, including but not limited to whether and how to preserve text messages and emails
There is no excuse for the deletion of text messages from government officials from a day as critical and devastating as January 6, 2021, and the Secret Service’s deletion of texts will continue to seem like a cover-up if more answers aren’t provided.
Documents obtained by CREW have already led to chilling revelations about the Secret Service’s apparent negligence, including apparent delays in relaying threats to members of Congress and failures to prepare for and respond to violence on the day despite clear warning signs. The Secret Service needs to be accountable to the public, and clarify what procedures–if any–led to them deleting critical messages in the first place and shed light on whether the deletion was a politicized effort to hinder the ongoing OIG investigation.