U.S. panel probing Capitol attack to ask Secret Service about text deletion
The U.S. congressional panel probing the Jan. 6 2021 attack on the Capitol plans to ask the Secret Service about its alleged deletion of text messages sought by a watchdog investigating the agency's response to the assault, the panel's chairman said.
The watchdog on Friday met the House of Representatives panel after accusing the Secret Service of deleting "many" text messages in a letter to lawmakers.
Representative Bennie Thompson, a Democrat who chairs the panel probing the attack, told CNN that the committee plans to contact Secret Service officials to ask about the alleged erasure of text messages, including the agency's process for cleaning out files to see if that policy was followed.
The inspector general, Joseph Cuffari, met with the committee probing the attack behind closed doors on Friday, footage from CNN showed.
"We now need to talk to the Secret Service.... Our expectation is to reach out to them," Thompson told CNN.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general's office (OIG) sent a letter to lawmakers on Wednesday, saying that "many" messages had been erased by the Secret Service with a device-replacement program after the watchdog asked for the records.
The Secret Service disputed that accusation on Thursday, saying some phone data was lost during a routine device migration, but that all of the requested texts had been saved.
"A 'routine' cleaning of files will require a process, so we want to see what that process is," Thompson said on Friday.
After the letter was published on Thursday, Thompson told the Axios news website the alleged deletion was "concerning."
"If there's a way we can reconstruct the texts or what have you, we will," Thompson said.
It was not clear from the letter what messages the inspector general's office believed had been deleted or what evidence they might contain.
The Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol followed weeks of false claims by former U.S. President Donald Trump that he won the 2020 election.