Washington, DC — According to a letter sent to congressional committees and obtained by NBC News, the Secret Service deleted text messages from Jan. 6 and the day before the Capitol attack after the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog requested records of electronic communications tied to the insurrection.
According to a letter sent to two congressional committees on Wednesday by Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, many of the messages from January 5 and 6 had been erased “as part of a device-replacement program.” Cuffari said in the letter that he had been informed of the deletions.
According to the Intercept, the letters were first made public.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee received a copy of Cuffari’s letter.
Text messages were deleted after the OIG requested electronic records from the USSS, Cuffari wrote in his letter, as a part of our investigation into events at the Capitol on January 6.
“They were not permitted to provide records directly” to the watchdog, he said, adding that the agency’s attorneys first had to review the records.
OIG records were delayed for weeks and there was confusion over whether all records had been produced as a result of this review,” he said.
NBC News has requested comment from the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and its inspector general.
The Secret Service is a branch of the DHS, which is responsible for national security.
The Secret Service’s response to the riot on January 6 will likely be reexamined in light of the deleted text messages.
Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, testified last month about a physical altercation between former President Trump and one of his most trusted aides.
He had described to Hutchinson how a livid Trump grabbed for the steering wheel, wrestled with one of the bodyguards for control of the car, and ultimately grabbed the bodyguard’s throat when informed he was being driven back to the White House rather than to the Capitol to join his supporters following a speech at The Ellipse.
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