The National Archives and Records Administration has asked the Secret Service to determine whether any text messages from before or during the January 6 Capitol riot were “improperly deleted,” after a federal watchdog determined a trove of texts from that time were erased, which the Secret Service claims was unintentional.

Key Facts

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National Archives Chief Records Officer Laurence Brewer sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday asking the Secret Service to “look into this matter” and send a report to the National Archives within 30 days if wrongdoing is found.

DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari said in a letter last week that the Secret Service deleted the texts as part of a “device-replacement program” after he requested to see them, and insinuated the Secret Service was not cooperating with his review into the Capitol riot .

Cuffari did not state whether he believed the messages were intentionally deleted.

The Secret Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes on Tuesday, but last week Anthony Guglielmi said “the Secret Service has been fully cooperating with the OIG in every respect” and at no point “maliciously deleted text messages.”

The House January 6 committee issued a subpoena Friday demanding the Secret Service recover the deleted texts and turn them over to the panel, but the Secret Service determined it had no new records it could provide, according to the Washington Post,

What To Watch For

If wrongdoing is suspected, the National Archives can ask the Justice Department to launch a criminal probe, as it reportedly did after it recovered 15 boxes of records former President Donald Trump took with him to Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House. The maximum sentence for destroying public records with "willful and unlawful intent" is three years in prison.

Key Background

The actions and intentions of Secret Service agents during the Capitol riot have come under increased scrutiny lately over testimony given to the January 6 committee. Greg Jacob, who was general counsel to former Vice President Mike Pence, said at a hearing last month that Pence refused to go with Secret Service agents who wanted to take him away from the Capitol during the riot, fearing they planned to keep him from certifying the 2020 election results. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said at a June 28 hearing that former President Donald Trump reached for the throat of Robert Engel, the leader of his Secret Service detail, and grabbed the steering wheel of his limo on January 6 after being told he wasn't t being taken to the Capitol because of security concerns. Secret Service agents have denied the episode ever took place in comments to media outlets, but have not challenged the story under oath.

Secret Service Deleted Trove Of January 6 Texts, Watchdog Says (Forbes)

National Archives Reportedly Seeks Justice Department Probe Into Trump's Handling Of White House Records (Forbes)

National Archives Took 15 Boxes Of White House Records From Mar-A-Lago—Which Should Have Never Been There (Forbes)

Jan. 6 Hearings: Trump Grabbed Limo Steering Wheel, Lunged At Security Chief In Rage At Not Being Taken To Capitol, Ex-Aide Says (Forbes)