Secret Service identified potentially missing text messages on 10 people’s phones

The review came after the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general last year requested text records of 24 Secret Service people who were involved on Jan. 6, but only one text was produced. After the matter was made public this month, the inspector general launched a criminal investigation into the case and lawmakers demanded answers from the Secret Service to go back and find out what happened to the texts that allegedly could be deleted.

But the Secret Service’s internal investigation stalled after a July 20 letter from the DHS inspector general informed the agency that a criminal investigation was underway, ordering the Secret Service to arrest their own investigation.

Investigators had been working to determine whether the content of the text messages sent by the 10 staff members contained relevant information that should have been preserved, the sources said. Of the 24 Secret Service personnel examined, 10 other Secret Service personnel had no text messages and three only had personal files, the sources said.

Details of review of messages from 10 Secret Service personnel cap an extraordinary week of turmoil for the agency, which began with the inspector general demanding answers on possible missing texts and led to a subpoena to appear from Congress and a criminal investigation into the matter.

The text messages at issue may have been deleted when the agency performed a data migration from the phones that began Jan. 27, 2021. According to a letter sent by the Secret Service to the House Select Committee investigating the insurgency, which also searched for messages around January. 6 Secret Service, the Inspector General requested records from all 24 personnel in June 2021 – more than two months after the migration was completed.

Members of the House Select Committee emphasized their belief that the agency should have done more to preserve the records before the migration, citing a Jan. 16, 2021, letter from congressional committees to multiple agencies, including the FBI and the Bureau. from the Intelligence and Analysis Department of Homeland Security, asking them to keep records related to Jan. 6.

An appendix to that letter directed the Chief of the Office of Analysis and Intelligence, Joe Maher, to circulate the request among relevant components of DHS, which could, in theory, include the Secret Service.

Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesperson for the Secret Service, told CNN the agency conducted an eight-hour search of various internal messaging systems on Thursday to try to determine whether the Jan. 16 request had been sent to the Secret Service. No trace of that letter ever reached the Secret Service, he said.

A source familiar with the matter told CNN that former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence’s detail chiefs Robert Engel and Tim Giebels, respectively, are among 24 staffers whose messages text have been requested for review by the Inspector General. It is unclear whether Engel and Giebels are among 10 staff members whose phones contained metadata showing text messages.

Engel and Giebels did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Prior to the inspector general’s letter this week, the Secret Service told the House committee on Jan. 6 that it was engaged in “extensive efforts” to determine if any messages had been lost and were recoverable, including extracting metadata and interviewing the agency’s 24 staff members.

CNN’s Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.


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