The House Jan. 6 Committee on July 15 issued a subpoena to the Secret Service after it was informed about some text messages that were erased under the agency.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the committee, said in a letter (pdf) that it is seeking “relevant text messages, as well as any after action reports that have been issued in any and all divisions of the [U.S. Secret Service] pertaining or relating in any way to the events of January 6, 2021.”
Thompson’s subpoena letter is addressed to the director of the Secret Service, James Murray.
The Jan. 6 subpoena comes after the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Joseph Cuffari, told lawmakers in a letter on July 13 that “many” text messages by the Secret Service sent on Jan. 5–6, 2021 “were erased as part of a device-replacement program.” The DHS oversees the Secret Service.
The messages were deleted after Cuffari’s office, the DHS Office of the Inspector General (DHS OIG), requested records from the Secret Service as part of its probe into events surrounding the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol, the July 13 letter said.
It was unclear what messages the DHS OIG believed had been deleted or what evidence they might contain.
In a statement issued on July 14, Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that any suggestion that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages after it was asked to produce the records is false.
Guglielmi said the agency has been fully cooperative with the inspector general’s probe. He said that the Secret Service “began to reset its mobile phones to factory settings as part of a pre-planned, three-month system migration” but in the process, “data resident on some phones was lost.”
Guglielmi noted that the DHS OIG was notified about the data loss and “that none of the texts it was seeking had been lost in the migration.”
Thompson said in this subpoena letter on July 15 that the Jan. 6 Committee is aware of the July 14 statement.
“A ‘routine’ cleaning of files will require a process, so we want to see what that process is,” Thompson said on July 15.
Meanwhile, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a Jan. 6 Committee member, told reporters on July 15 that the panel was keen to retrieve the allegedly deleted text messages.
The Jan. 6 Committee originally sought electronic records in January. In March, the committee officially requested all communications received or sent from DHS employees on Jan. 5–7, 2021.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Update: This article has been updated with the latest details.