Investigative panel into US Capitol attack subpoenas Secret Service over text messages – The Irish Times

The House Select Committee investigating the Capitol attack issued a subpoena to the US Secret Service for the January 5 and 6 text messages that were allegedly deleted.

The subpoena issued on Friday evening – the first to an executive branch agency – compelled the production of messages and after-action reports about the attack as part of a broad request for documents aimed at establishing the circumstances surrounding erasing some communications and getting whatever remains.

Congressman Bennie Thompson, chairman of the select committee, said in a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray that the agency tasked with protecting the president and vice president should be able to produce the messages given by his spokesperson. none of the texts in question have been lost.

The revelation that texts among Secret Service agents from the day before and the day of the Capitol attack were erased in a “device replacement program” came in a letter to Congress from the Department’s inspector general. Homeland Security, the Secret Service watchdog.

On Friday morning, the source said, Inspector General Joseph Cuffari also complained to the select committee that the Secret Service chose to have him do an internal review of the agency’s January 6 response instead of after action reports – only to obstruct this internal review.

The Select Committee, during this briefing with the Inspector General, also heard that the Secret Service story of how the texts were lost kept changing. Initially, the source said, Mr Cuffari was told they had been lost during software upgrades; later, he was told it was during a process of replacing cellphones for agency staff.

The subpoena for the texts and any after-action reports — which the panel suspects probably don’t exist, according to the source — are aimed at obtaining all the texts that might not have been lost and get paper trails on how the texts that were lost came to be erased.

The January 6 investigators, working with Mr Cuffari, are also looking into whether the missing texts can be pieced together using forensic tools available to federal law enforcement, the Guardian first reported. .

The texts are important to Jan. 6 investigators because the Secret Service played a crucial role in preventing Donald Trump from visiting Capitol Hill that day and, according to the panel, they wanted to remove the then vice president. , Mike Pence, of the complex.

Committee investigators say texts from the day of the Capitol attack could shed light on how the Secret Service wanted to move Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence, while texts from the day before could provide greater clarity on how security plans have developed, the sources said.

Days before the attack on the Capitol, the Secret Service estimated that they probably could not guarantee the safety of Mr. Trump if he visited the Capitol on January 6 and, according to a person familiar with the report, the forwarded to senior White House officials.

On the day of the attack on the Capitol, according to testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, the Secret Service played a major role in preventing Mr. Trump from going to the Capitol by returning to the West Wing after his speech at the Ellipse.

The committee believes the Secret Service text messages could provide a record of security plans for Jan. 6.

It was unclear whether texts from Anthony Ornato, a former agent turned White House deputy chief of staff, and Mr Trump’s senior agent Bobby Engel were among the messages deleted in a “device replacement program”. – Guardian

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