The U.S. congressional panel probing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol in Washington said it had subpoenaed the Secret Service as it investigates accusations by a watchdog that the agency erased text messages sought as evidence.
“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,” the committee’s chair, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, said in a written statement
Inspector general Joseph Cuffari on Friday met the House of Representatives panel after accusing the Secret Service of deleting “many” text messages.
“We now need to talk to the Secret Service…. Our expectation is to reach out to them,” Thompson told CNN.
Conflicting accounts about texts
Committee member Jamie Raskin told reporters on Friday that the panel was determined to retrieve text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, that were allegedly deleted.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general’s office (OIG) sent a letter to lawmakers on Wednesday, saying “many” messages had been erased by the Secret Service with a device-replacement program after the watchdog asked for the records.
The Secret Service disputed that accusation on Thursday, saying some phone data was lost during a routine device migration, but all of the requested texts had been saved.
“A ‘routine’ cleaning of files will require a process, so we want to see what that process is,” Thompson said on Friday.
It was not clear from the letter what messages the inspector general’s office believed had been deleted or what evidence they might contain.
The 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump followed weeks of false claims by the former president that he had won the 2020 election.
Dramatic testimony from former aide
The Jan. 6 committee has taken a renewed interest in the Secret Service following the dramatic testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who recalled what she heard about Trump’s actions 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 magnetometers for his rally at the Ellipse park even though some of his supporters were armed.
With evidence still emerging, the House Jan. 6 committee has scheduled its next hearing to take place Thursday in prime time. The 8 p.m. ET hearing, the eighth in a series that began in early June, will take a deeper look into the three-hour-plus stretch when Trump failed to act as a mob of supporters stormed the Capitol.
It will be the first hearing in prime time since June 9, the first on the committee’s findings. That earlier hearing was viewed by 20 million people.