Secret Service text messages exchanged during the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot and from the day before were deleted after a federal investigator requested the records, according to a letter from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, as questions swirl about what the Secret Service’s intentions were on the day of the riot.

Key Facts

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The letter, obtained by multiple news outlets, stated the texts were “erased as part of a device-replacement program” after the inspector general requested the records as part of its review of the January 6 riot.

DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari did not state whether he believed the erasure was intentional, in his letter sent Wednesday to the House and Senate Homeland Security committees and later to the January 6 committee.

Cuffari also said DHS officials “repeatedly” told his office they could not turn over the records until they were reviewed by the department’s attorneys.

Secret Service related Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement that “the insinuation that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages following a request is false,” claiming “the Secret Service has been fully cooperating with the OIG in respect.”

The story was first reported by investive news outlet the intercept,

Crucial Quotes

"The Committee will be briefed about this extraordinarily troubling destruction of records and respond accordingly," Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the January 6 committee, said in a statement to CNN,

Key Background

Testimony presented at January 6 committee hearings in recent weeks has prompted significant scrutiny of Secret Service agents' actions on January 6. Greg Jacob, who served as general counsel for former Vice President Mike Pence, testified last month that Secret Service agents wanted to whisk Pence away from the Capitol during the riot, but he refused to go with them over concerns it would prevent him from certifying the 2020 election results. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified at a June 28 hearing that former President Donald Trump grabbed the steering wheel of his limo and lunged at the throat of Robert Engel, the head of his Secret Service detail, when he was told he wasn't being taken to the Capitol on January 6 due to security concerns. Secret Service agents have reportedly denied the account.

Secret Service Deleted Jan. 6 Text Messages After Oversight Officials Requested Them (Intercept)

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