Congress accuses Secret Service of cover-up over ‘missing’ text messages in January 6 probe

Top congressional Democrats have accused the US Secret Service of engaging in a cover-up immediately after the January 6 attacks on the nation’s Capitol, by allegedly scrubbing text messages that could have incriminated them.

The potentially damning allegations were aired in a letter to the agency’s inspector general Monday, penned by New York Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, and Mississippi’s Bennie Thompson.

The note saw the two prominent progressives accuse Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari of overseeing the cover-up, and demanded he step aside from his post as the House continues to probe the 2021 riots.

The embattled Homeland security official, who serves as the agency’s watchdog, has come under fire after it was revealed he first learned of the missing messages in May 2021 – months earlier than previously known and more than a year before he alerted the House that potentially crucial information may have been erased. 

It comes as part of a deepening investigation into the agency’s handling of the now-deleted texts, which the reps argue may have provided proof that agents received instruction from higherups during the brazen daytime raid.

Top congressional Democrats have accused the US Secret Service of engaging in a cover-up immediately after the January 6 attacks on the nation’s Capitol, by allegedly scrubbing text messages that could have incriminated them.

The potentially damning allegations were aired in a letter to the agency's inspector general Monday, penned by New York Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, and Mississippi's Bennie Thompson

The potentially damning allegations were aired in a letter to the agency’s inspector general Monday, penned by New York Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, and Mississippi’s Bennie Thompson

‘We are writing with grave new concerns over your lack of transparency and independence, which appear to be jeopardizing the integrity of a crucial investigation run by your office,’ Maloney, who also serves as the House Oversight Chair Carolyn and Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson wrote in the letter.   

‘According to recent reports, your office learned that the Secret Service was missing critical text messages as part of your investigation of the January 6 attack against the U.S. Capitol in May 2021 – seven months earlier than previously revealed.’

The high-powered Dems continued: ‘The Committees have obtained new evidence that your office may have secretly abandoned efforts to collect text messages from the Secret Service more than a year ago.

‘These documents also indicate that your office may have taken steps to cover up the extent of missing records, raising further concerns about your ability to independently and effectively perform your duties as Inspector General (IG).’

The letter further accused the agency of knowingly refusing to hand over the messages despite the House’s probe, which began just over a year ago in July in 2021. 

The note saw the two prominent progressives accuse Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari of overseeing the cover-up, and demanded he step aside from his post as the House continues to probe the 2021 riots

The note saw the two prominent progressives accuse Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari of overseeing the cover-up, and demanded he step aside from his post as the House continues to probe the 2021 riots

The deletion of the messages are of particular interest to the House, due to it potentially shedding light on Donald Trump's actions during the insurrection - particularly after recent rumors about a supposed confrontation with security as he tried to join supporters at the riot

The deletion of the messages are of particular interest to the House, due to it potentially shedding light on Donald Trump’s actions during the insurrection – particularly after recent rumors about a supposed confrontation with security as he tried to join supporters at the riot

It called for two of the office’s top employees to testify this month about the deleted texts and their contents, and asked that an immediate replacement be named for Cuffari.

The Secret Service, meanwhile, maintains that the text messages lost on at least 10 agents’ phones days after the riots were lost as a result of a previously scheduled data migration of agents’ cell phones that began on January 27, 2021. 

After the data migration was completed in May of last year, the agency argues, the Secret Service told Cuffari’s office that they tried to contact a cellular provider to retrieve the texts when they realized they were lost.

Those efforts, they said, were ultimately unsuccessful – with Cuffari sending a letter to the two committees last month disclosing that Secret Service text messages sent and received around Jan. 6, 2021, were deleted despite requests from Congress and investigators they be preserved. 

The deletion of the messages are of particular interest to the House, due to it potentially shedding light on then-President Donald Trump’s actions during the insurrection – particularly in the wake of recent rumors about his supposed confrontation with security as he tried to join supporters at the Capitol.

The note saw the two prominent progressives accuse Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari of overseeing the cover-up, and demanded he step aside from his post as the House continues to probe the 2021 riots

The note saw the two prominent progressives accuse Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari of overseeing the cover-up, and demanded he step aside from his post as the House continues to probe the 2021 riots

An internal Secret Service investigation reportedly found 10 agents had records of sent or received text messages from the days surrounding the January 6 attacks, but they had since been deleted. Agents are seen here entering the Capitol to evacuate senators during the riot

An internal Secret Service investigation reportedly found 10 agents had records of sent or received text messages from the days surrounding the January 6 attacks, but they had since been deleted. Agents are seen here entering the Capitol to evacuate senators during the riot

Investigators were working to determine whether the content of these texts contained information about the Capitol insurrection, and should have been preserved amid an ongoing House investigation into the riot (pictured)

It’s unclear now what will happen to the 10 Secret Service members who were found to have deleted text messages from the time, as the Inspector General ordered the agency to cease its internal investigation amid a criminal probe. 

Secret Service agents, though, say the texts could have been deleted accidentally, when the agency conducted a months-long data migration of its phones beginning Jan. 27, 2021. 

The agency left it up to individual agents to decide what electronic records to keep and what to delete during the process.

The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General had requested records from Bobby Engel, the head of former President Trump's Secret Service detail

He also requested records from Tim Giebels, the head of Vice President Mike Pence's detail

Among the text records the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General requested were those of the heads of the detail for both former President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence: Bobby Engel and Tim Giebels, respectively. It is unclear whether they are included among the 10 personnel whose phones contained metadata showing records of deleted texts

Joe Maher, the principal deputy general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security, was tasked with circulating a January 2021 letter to component agencies - presumably including the Secret Service - ensuring they preserve records related to the insurrection. The agency now says it never received that message

Joe Maher, the principal deputy general counsel at the Department of Homeland Security, was tasked with circulating a January 2021 letter to component agencies – presumably including the Secret Service – ensuring they preserve records related to the insurrection. The agency now says it never received that message

According to a letter sent to the Secret Service from the House Select Committee investigating the insurrection, the inspector general first asked for records from 24 personnel in June 2021.

‘The Select Committee seeks the relevant text messages, as well as any after action reports that have been issued in any and all divisions of the USSS pertaining or relating in any way to the events of January 6, 2021,’ January 6, panel Chairman Bennie Thompson wrote in a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray.

The committee also specifically requested ‘all documents and communications related to actual or attempted conversations between any DHA official and President Trump and/or any other White House official’ about the January 5 rally and January 6 riot.

The request came more than two months after the data migration should have been complete, according to CNN. 

At the time, Secret Service agents were supposed to manually back up their texts before the migration, sources allege. If an employee failed to do so, their messages would’ve been permanently deleted during the process.

‘Any message that was not uploaded by the employee as a government record would have been lost during the migration,’ a Secret Service official told CNN Tuesday.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.