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Monday, December 09, 2019

Rep. Bennie Thompson

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Those who have been closely following the series of hearings being presented by the U.S. House of Representatives’ bipartisan select committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection have been wondering if the committee will be revealing any new texts it received from the U.S. Secret Service. But according to Washington Post reporters Carol D. Leonnig and Maria Sacchetti, the Secret Service has “determined” that it “has no new texts to provide Congress relevant to its January 6 investigation” and that “any other texts its agents exchanged around the time of the 2021 attack on the Capitol were purged, according to a senior official briefed on the matter.”

Leonnig and Sacchetti, in an article published on July 19, also report that the U.S. National Archives has “sought more information on ‘the potential unauthorized deletion’ of agency text messages.”

“The U.S. government’s chief record-keeper asked the Secret Service to report back to the Archives within 30 days about the deletion of any records, including describing what was purged and the circumstances of how the documentation was lost,” Leonnig and Sacchetti report. “The law enforcement agency, whose agents have been embroiled in the January 6 investigation because of their role shadowing and planning President Donald Trump’s movements that day, is expected to share this conclusion with the January 6 committee in response to its Friday subpoena for texts and other records.”

The Post reporters continue, “The agency, which made this determination after reviewing its communication databases over the past four days, will provide thousands of records, but nearly all of them have been shared previously with an agency watchdog and congressional committees, the senior official said. None is expected to shed new light on the key matters the committee is probing, including whether Trump attacked a Secret Service agent, an account a senior White House aide described to the January 6 committee.”

Leonnig and Sacchetti note that “many of” the Secret Service agents’ “cellphone texts were permanently purged starting in mid-January 2021 and Secret Service officials said it was the result of an agencywide reset of staff telephones and replacement that it began planning months earlier.”

According to the Post reporters, “Secret Service agents, many of whom protect the president, vice president and other senior government leaders, were instructed to upload any old text messages involving government business to an internal agency drive before the reset, the senior official said, but many agents appear not to have done so. The result is that potentially valuable evidence — the real-time communications and reactions of agents who interacted directly with Trump or helped coordinate his plans before and during January 6 — is unlikely to ever be recovered, two people familiar with the Secret Service communications system said. They requested anonymity to discuss sensitive matters without agency authorization.”

Leonnig was emphatic in a July 19 tweet, posting, “PURGED — Here’s the news. Those @SecretService texts are gone, gone, gone. Agency scoured records and said it found nothing new to give Congress. National Archives now investigating if USSS broke the law.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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