US Secret Service denies Capitol riot accusations — Analysis

According to some reports, sensitive texts regarding the events of January 6 in Washington, DC were deleted by the agency

The US Secret Service has denied deliberately deleting text messages from the day of the January 6 Capitol riot and the day before, insisting on Thursday it has been working together with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General in its ongoing probe into the day’s events.

The Secret Service has been fully cooperating with the OIG in every respect – whether it be interviews, documents, emails, or texts,” agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said, claiming the Secret Service had begun resetting its mobile phones as part of a “device-replacement program” long before any texts regarding January 6 were requested. 

While the Secret Service’s decision to erase the texts from January 5 and 6, 2021 was supposedly part of a “System migration pre-planned and three months in duration,” Inspector General Joseph Cuffari noted in a letter to the House Committee on Homeland Security that the messages had been erased after the OIG had already requested copies.

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However, Guglielmi pointed out that the OIG did not request copies of the text messages until February 26, long after the “Migration” had begun. Even so, the Secret Service claimed none of the texts sought by the OIG had been “Lost in the migration” and blamed Department of Homeland Security lawyers for not granting “Access to the materials should be available promptly and in a timely manner.

Two sources familiar with the matter told the Washington Post that the Secret Service had in fact begun a “The replacement of telephones in the staff area has been long planned and will improve communications across all agencies.” in January 2021, and confirmed that the OIG had not asked for records related to January 6 until the following month, by which time as many as a third of the agency personnel had received new phones.

However, the Secret Service insisted it had provided a “Considerable” number of emails and chat messages related to January 6, including texts from Capitol Police requesting assistance on that date.

Agents are reported to frequently not meet these obligations, despite the fact that it is required by its policies for the Secret Service to backup communications whenever they upgrade to electronic devices. 

It isn’t a rare occurrence for the agency that critical records are lost during a highly publicized investigation. The Post reports that the Secret Service had memory-holed boxes with material, indicating that it was aware of organized groups’ plans to murder John F. Kennedy by firing rifles from high buildings. The agency denied that the records had been destroyed during a routine purge of archives.

Council of the Inspectors General on Intuity and Efficiency has been looking into allegations of misconduct against the OIG since January.

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On January 6th, 2021, thousands of Trump supporters and supporters of election integrity marched to Washington DC in protest of what they believe was a stolen election. They were there to protest Democrat Joe Biden’s claim that he received the greatest number of votes in American history. Trump spoke with the demonstrators outside the White House, before marching on towards the Capitol. Four people were killed when a group of protesters managed to get into the Capitol building during Congress’s session.

Last July, the Select Committee for January 6th Incident began hearings. Its leading lawmakers attempted to portray the events of the day as “Attack on American Democracy” orchestrated by then-president Trump and his allies. Republicans sympathetic to Trump have pushed back against that narrative, arguing the riot was merely a peaceful demonstration that got out of control, possibly due to infiltration by the president’s enemies.

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