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Iran Press TV

US Secret Service erased text messages sought in Jan. 6 probe, say officials

Iran Press TV

Friday, 15 July 2022 6:01 AM

The US Secret Service erased text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, after an oversight agency requested them, according to a letter given by the Department of Homeland Security to the House and Senate committees.

In a letter to the House of Representatives and Senate Homeland Security Committees investigating the events of January 6, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general's office (OIG) declared on Thursday that "many" messages had been deleted by the Secret Service.

While the Secret Service maintains that the text messages were lost due to a "device-replacement program," the letter argues that the erasure took place soon after oversight officials asked the agency for the records.

After the letter was published on Thursday, Bennie Thompson, who chairs both the congressional panel probing the Capitol attack and the House Homeland Security Committee, stated in an interview with a local news outlet that the alleged deletion was "concerning."

"If there's a way we can reconstruct the texts or what have you, we will," Thompson said.

However, it was unclear from the letter what messages the inspector general's office believed had been erased or what evidence they might contain.

In a lengthy statement issued in response to the allegations, Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi emphasized that the agency had "fully" cooperated with the inspector general's office.

"DHS OIG requested electronic communications for the first time on February 26, 2021, after the migration was well underway," Guglielmi noted.

"The Secret Service notified DHS OIG of the loss of certain phones' data, but confirmed to OIG that none of the texts it was seeking had been lost in the migration."

The spokesman further said that despite the assertions of the inspector general's office, its employees had been granted "appropriate and timely access" to the materials.

The DHS did not respond to media inquiries regarding the issue until late on Thursday.

The January 6, 2021 attack on the expansive legislative compound, known as the US Capitol, came weeks after false claims were spread by then-president Donald Trump that he had won the 2020 presidential election.

US lawmakers sitting on the House of Representative's panel probing the attack accused Trump on Tuesday of inciting the violence in a last-ditch effort to remain in power after being defeated by his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, in the presidential poll.

According to a report in The Intercept, then-vice president Mike Pence was at the Capitol to certify the results that day. When rioters entered the building, the Secret Service tried to whisk Pence away from the scene.

"I'm not getting in the car," Pence reportedly told the Secret Service detail on January 6. "If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off."

"People need to understand that if Pence had listened to the Secret Service and fled the Capitol, this could have turned out a whole lot worse," a congressional official was quoted as saying in the report. "It could've been a successful coup, not just an attempted one."

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