Secret Service gives thousands of documents to Jan. 6 committee, but has yet to retrieve potentially missing texts
By Ryan Nobles, Zachary Cohen, Annie Grayer and Whitney Wild, CNN
The US Secret Service on Tuesday produced an “initial package of documents” to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, in response to a subpoena last week that was issued in the middle of reports of potentially missing text messages since the day of the uprising. insurrection.
“Our delivery included thousands of pages of documents, Secret Service cell phone use and other policies, and operational and planning records,” USSS spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. , in a press release.
However, Tuesday’s production of documents did not include any potentially missing texts from January 5 and 6, 2021, a Secret Service official told CNN. Indeed, the agency has still not been able to recover recordings lost during a telephone migration at that time, the official said.
“Any message that was not uploaded by the employee as a government record would have been lost during the migration,” the USSS official told CNN, referring to the agency’s backup procedures.
Prior to the phone migration, Secret Service employees were expected to manually back up their text messages. If employees had skipped this step, their texts would have been permanently deleted when their phones were wiped during the migration.
The Secret Service insists it is still trying to recover lost messages.
“We continue to review our records, databases and archives to ensure full compliance with the Committee’s subpoena,” Guglielmi said in a statement. “We are taking all possible steps to identify cases responding to the subpoena, including forensic examinations of agency phones and other investigative techniques.”
The Secret Service informed the committee on Tuesday that it was “not currently aware” of any text messages that were not withheld, according to a source familiar with the Secret Service’s communication with the committee.
“We are currently not aware of any text messages issued by Secret Service employees between December 7, 2020 and January 8, 2021 requested by the OIG that were not retained as part of the Intune migration,” said writes the agency to the committee.
Congress notified the Secret Service that it needed to preserve and produce Jan. 6-related documents on Jan. 16, 2021, and again on Jan. 25, 2021, for four different committees investigating what happened, depending on the source. The Secret Service migration did not begin until January 27, 2021.
“No one along the way has stopped and thought, well, maybe we shouldn’t do the data and device migration until we’re able to meet these four demands of Congress. “said Democratic Representative Stephanie Murphy of Florida, a member of the committee. , in an interview on MSNBC. “The process, as explained to us, was simply to leave it up to the agent to determine whether or not there was something on their phone worth recording and needed to be registered in the federal archives.”
Separately, a source familiar with the matter told CNN that employees were twice ordered to back up their phones.
Secret Service employees were told in December 2020 and again in January 2020 that if they needed to back up their phones, they would have to do it manually, a source familiar told CNN. The source said employees were given instructions on how to perform the manual backup.
Earlier Tuesday, the National Archives joined a growing list of federal agencies and officials demanding answers on the batch of missing text messages.
Laurence Brewer, the US government’s records chief, sent a letter to the records officer at the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday asking the agency to clarify whether the text messages were deleted and explain why.
“If it is determined that any text messages were improperly deleted (regardless of their relevance to the OIG/Congressional investigation of the events of January 6, 2021), then the Secret Service should send a report to NARA within 30 calendar days of the date of this letter with a report documenting the deletion,” Brewer wrote in the letter to Damian Kokinda, the DHS Records Officer, referring to the DHS Office of Inspector General .
The possible deletion of texts was first brought to light last week by the Inspector General of Homeland Security, who sent a letter to the chairs of the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees informing them that the texts could be missing and raising concerns that DHS officials were slow. to respond to their requests for information.
The letter led the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection to summon Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to a closed-door meeting two days after his letter was published. The committee also quickly issued a subpoena Friday to the Secret Service, demanding the records, their first such request to an executive branch agency.
The National Archives’ request is separate from the House’s Jan. 6 inquiry. Their job is to protect and preserve government records, and by law they can compel an agency to explain why records may have gone missing. The investigation into what went wrong will not be carried out by the Archives themselves, but rather by the Secret Service, which must then submit a report to the Archives.
“The USSS has 30 days to submit a report to NARA on its investigation into the circumstances of this alleged unauthorized deletion,” a spokesperson for the National Archives said in a statement to CNN. “In general, investigations into instances of unauthorized disposal, deletion, or removal are conducted by designated agency records officers who direct records management programs at agencies.”
The Department of Homeland Security has previously said it will comply with the committee’s Jan. 6 subpoena request, saying in a statement that the department “has and will continue to assure that the DHS office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol has the information it has requested.
The members of the select committee believe that it is possible that the text messages can still be recovered. They planned to receive some of the material as early as Tuesday.
“We received a briefing from the Inspector General of Homeland Security,” Rep. Zoe Logren, a committee member and Democrat from California, told ABC News on Sunday. “And then there was a statement made by the spokesperson for the ministry saying that it was not true, it was not fair, and that in fact they had relevant texts. And here we go, okay, if you have them, we need them. And we hope to have them by this Tuesday. So we’ll see.
This story and headline were updated with additional developments on Tuesday.
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CNN’s Jamie Gangel and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.