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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Jan. 6 Committee Summons Secret Service for Deleted Text Messages

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The House committee investigating the Capitol riots has summoned the Secret Service to text message agents allegedly removed around January 6, 2021, as a panel investigates Donald Trump’s actions at the time of the deadly siege. does.

The committee’s chair, Rep. Benny Thompson, D-Miss, said the committee understands the messages were “erased.” Thompson outlined an aggressive timeline for producing the documents by Tuesday.

“The USSS erased text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021 as part of a ‘device-replacement program’,” Thompson said in a statement late Friday.

Read more: Government watchdog says Secret Service agents deleted January 6 text messages

He said the panel seeks “relevant text messages as well as any subsequent action reports that have been issued in any and all divisions of the USSS or are in any way related to the events of January 6, 2021. “

According to a statement by agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, the Secret Service said “we have had full and unwavering cooperation” and “this has not changed” since the committee began its work. He added: “We plan to continue that cooperation by swiftly responding to the committee’s summons.”

The summons comes hours after the nine-member panel received a closed briefing from the Department of Homeland Security’s watchdog, which oversees the Secret Service. According to two people familiar with the matter, lawmakers were informed of their discovery that the Secret Service removed the texts from about January 6.

That discovery gave rise to the startling prospect of lost evidence that could shed further light on then-President Donald Trump’s actions during the rebellion, especially after earlier testimony about his confrontation with security when he visited the Capitol. I tried to connect with the supporters.

It was a rare move for the committee to issue summons to an executive branch department.

The private briefing with the Inspector General, Joseph Caffari, came two days after his office sent a letter to leaders of the House and Senate Homeland Security committees, saying Secret Service agents had sent messages between January 5 and January 6, 2021. was erased. of a tool-replacement program. The letter said the deletion was made after the Sentinel Office requested records from agents as part of an investigation into the events surrounding the January 6 attack.

The committee originally sought electronic records in mid-January and made an official request in March for all communications received or sent from DHS staff between January 5 and January 7, 2021.

Read more: Capitol rioter with Confederate flag attached to a lacrosse stick gets 5 months in prison

Thompson told The Associated Press on Friday that the committee is looking deeply into whether the records may have been lost. “There have been some conflicting stances on the matter,” he said.

The briefing was confirmed by two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss it.

The Secret Service says proper procedures were followed. “To say that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages following the request is false,” Guglielmi said.

He said the Secret Service began resetting its mobile devices to factory settings in January 2021 “as part of a pre-planned, three-month system migration.” In that process, some data was lost.

“The migration was going well,” said Guglielmi, who first requested electronic communications on February 26.

The Secret Service said it had provided a substantial number of emails and chat messages that contained conversations and details relating to January 6. It also said that text messages requesting assistance from Capitol Police on January 6 were preserved and provided to the Office of the Inspector General.

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service, is also expecting a briefing from the inspector general about the letter, according to a person familiar with the committee’s discussions, who was not authorized. Discuss them publicly.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, the committee’s top Republican, said in a statement that he was “deeply concerned” by the inspector general’s recent letter and that it was “essential that the department be transparent with its inspector general, Congress and the American public.”

Read more: Who is Stephen Ayers and why is he testifying at the January 6 hearing?

The January 6 committee has renewed interest in the Secret Service after dramatic testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who recalled what it had heard about Trump’s actions on the day of the rebellion.

Hutchinson recalled that the confrontation between Trump and his Secret Service detail was told as he angrily sought to go to the Capitol, where his supporters would later tear down the building. He also recalled that Trump told security officials to remove the magnetometer for his rally on the Ellipse, even though some of his supporters were armed.

Some details on that account were quickly disputed by those agents. Robert Engel, the agent who was driving the presidential SUV, and Trump security officer Tony Ornato are set to testify under oath that none of the agents were attacked and that Trump never lunged for the steering wheel, in this case. A person familiar with the news told the Associated Press. That person would not discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

With evidence still emerging, the January 6 committee has scheduled its next hearing in prime time on Thursday. The eighth in a series of hearings that began in early June will take an in-depth look at the more than three-hour stretch when Trump supporters failed to act as a crowd of supporters stormed the Capitol.

This will be the first hearing in prime time since June 9, the first hearing on the committee’s findings. That earlier hearing was watched by 20 million people.

Associated Press writer Gary Fields contributed to this report.

World Nation News Desk
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