A leading watchdog organization has accused the US Secret Service of deleting text communications from January 5 and 6, 2021, after they were sought by the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, alarming the US House Committee on January 6th.
The organization categorically denies the accusations that the agency destroyed text messages, alleging that the loss of data was due to a “phone reset.”
The Committee received contradictory evidence on the Secret Service’s actions that day and instructed the agency to “preserve its records.”
Chief of Communications for the Secret Service, Anthony Guglielmi, made a strongly worded statement on Thursday refuting the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) charges.
Statement of Anthony Guglielmi, Chief of Communications for the United States Secret Service on Accusations of Deleted Text Messages From DHS Inspector General: https://t.co/iHIYgnkP3P pic.twitter.com/WhUYEdzkfJ
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) July 15, 2022
Wednesday, DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari stated in a letter to Congress that several text communications from January 5 and 6, 2021 were erased despite an OIG request.
The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security, which is the parent agency of the Secret Service, had requested electronic communications records as part of its evaluation of the events of January 6, when Capitol visitors met with lawmakers to certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
According to OIG, the Secret Service first said the texts were lost as part of a “device-replacement” program, but the agency released a statement late Thursday disputing that the texts OIG requested had been lost.
According to the declaration:
“The assertion that the Secret Service erased text communications intentionally in response to a request is untrue. In reality, the Secret Service has been collaborating with the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) in every way, including interviews, documents, emails, and text messages.
First, the Secret Service began resetting its mobile phones to factory settings in January 2021, three months before to any OIG investigation into this matter, as part of a pre-planned system transfer. During this procedure, some phones’ data were lost.
The DHS OIG initially sought electronic communications on February 26, 2021, shortly after the migration had begun. The Secret Service informed the DHS OIG about the loss of data from specific phones, but confirmed to the OIG that none of the texts it was seeking were lost during the transfer.
More on this story via The Republic Brief:
Second, DHS OIG’s allegation regarding DHS’s cooperation with its investigation is neither correct nor new. To the contrary, DHS OIG has previously alleged that its employees were not granted appropriate and timely access to materials due to attorney review. DHS has repeatedly and publicly debunked this allegation, including in response to OIG’s last two semi-annual reports to Congress. It is unclear why OIG is raising this issue again.”
The statement went on: “DHS OIG’s allegation regarding DHS’s cooperation with its investigation is neither correct nor new. To the contrary, DHS OIG has previously alleged that its employees were not granted appropriate and timely access to materials due to attorney review.”
“DHS has repeatedly and publicly debunked this allegation, including in response to OIG’s last two semi-annual reports to Congress. It is unclear why OIG is raising this issue again,” the agency concluded. CONTINUE READING…