Secret Service erased text messages from Capitol attackJuly 15, 2022
Secret Service agents deleted text messages sent and received around the attack on the US Capitol even after an inspector general requested them as part of an investigation into the insurrection, the government watchdog has found.
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General said the messages between January 5 and January 6, 2021, were erased “as part of a device-replacement program” in a letter obtained by AP.
Trump supporters attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.Credit:AP
The erasure came after the watchdog office requested records of electronic communications between the agents as part of its investigation.
Additionally, Homeland Security personnel were told they couldn’t provide records to the inspector general and any such records would first have to be reviewed by DHS lawyers.
“This review led to a weeks-long delays in OIG obtaining records and created confusion over whether all records had been produced,” states the letter, which was sent to leaders of the House and Senate Homeland Security committees this week.
Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said: “We take strong issue with these categorically false claims and I will be responding in detail shortly.”
The erasure of the messages is sure to raise new questions for the House panel investigating the January 6 attack, which has taken a renewed interest in the Secret Service following the dramatic testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson about former President Donald Trump’s actions on the day of the insurrection.
Hutchinson recalled being told about a confrontation between Trump and his Secret Service detail as he angrily demanded to be driven to the Capitol, where his supporters would later breach the building.
She also recalled overhearing Trump telling security officials to remove metal detectors for his rally near the White House, even though some of his supporters were armed.
That account, however, was quickly disputed by those agents. Robert Engel, the agent who was driving the presidential SUV, and Trump security official Tony Ornato are willing to testify under oath that no agent was assaulted and Trump never lunged for the steering wheel, a person familiar with the matter told AP.
The person would not discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
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