Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari notified lawmakers that the United States Secret Service deleted text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, after receiving a formal request from investigators.
The letter, addressed to the Homeland Security Committee in both chambers of Congress and given to the Jan. 6 Select Committee, stated that text messages from the day before and the day of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot were “erased as part of a device-replacement program.”
A leaked copy of the letter reveals that Cuffari stated, “The USSS erased those text messages after OIG requested records of electronic communications from the USSS, as part of our evaluation of events at the Capitol on January 6.”
The letter also states that DHS officials relayed that they “were not permitted” to provide the requested records to the Office of the Inspector General until DHS attorneys reviewed them.
Addressing reporters on Thursday (July 14), Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the Jan. 6 Select Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee, indicated that both panels had recently received the letters and that who deleted the text messages was not clear.
Thompson added that the revelation “didn’t come on the committee side, it came on the Homeland side. And this was there — it was a letter. I have not seen the report yet.”
The committee chairman called the revelation “concerning” but indicated that “if there’s a way we can reconstruct the text … we will.”
Shortly after the revelation, a Secret Service spokesman released a statement confirming that the agency had been cooperating with the OIG and denied “the insinuation that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages following a request.”