Signs of Deleted Texts Found on 10 Secret Service Staff Phones: Report

A Secret Service probe found that 10 of its personnel involved in Jan. 6 exchanged several texts around the day of the Capitol riots, but the messages were deleted.

The news, an exclusive by CNN, came as a bombshell for the Secret Service, which was investigating its own staff after the agency was accused of not retaining records required by the investigations into Jan. 6.

After the Capitol riots, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general asked 24 members of the Secret Service involved to produce text records from around that day. Only a single text exchange was produced, for an entire period of 30 days (between December 7, 2020 and January 8, 2021).

Now, investigators have found that 10 of the Secret Service personnel involved in Jan. 6 deleted several text messages, whose content is still unknown.

While the identity of the 24 Secret Service staff members involved was not disclosed, we know that 10 did not send or receive any text message in the month between December 7, 2020 and January 8, 2021, and three more had only personal records.

Newsweek has contacted the Secret Service for comment.

This most recent revelation adds to a climactic week for the Secret Service, during which the Jan. 6 House committee issued a subpoena to the agency and the DHS later informed the agency, on July 20, that there was an ongoing criminal investigation looking into messages between Secret Services staff being erased.

The deleted texts have become a key issue after former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified to the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot that former President Donald Trump had attempted to grab the steering wheel of his limousine on January 6. Following Hutchinson's testimony, Secret Service sources told various media outlets that agents were ready to testify and refute the claim.

According to the Secret Service, messages sent around Jan. 6 were likely accidentally deleted during a data migration of staff phones that began on January 27, 2021.

Any accidental erasure of text messages then wouldn't be the fault of the Secret Service, the agency explained in a letter sent in 2021.

The Secret Service specifically said that "all Secret Service employees are responsible for appropriately preserving government records that may be created via text messaging" —essentially pushing responsibility for any erased messages onto individual staff members instead of the agency.

Still, the agency then promised to look into its staff's phones, pulling any available metadata to determine if messages were exchanged and later deleted.

That was until the DHS launched a criminal investigation into "the facts and circumstances surrounding the collection and preservation of evidence by the United States Secret Service as it relates to the events of January 6, 2021."

Now, the Secret Service has been asked to "not engage in any further investigative activities regarding the collection and preservation of the evidence referenced above," and to provide information about the interviews with its staff already conducted in relation to the investigation.

One key element of the investigation into the Secret Service's deleted messages is timing: members of the House committee say they sent a request to the agency to provide any documentation relevant to Jan. 6 on January 16, 2021—days before the agency conducted its data migration.

But a spokesperson for the Secret Service told CNN the agency found no record of the letter ever reaching them.

US Secret Service
Deleted messages from around Jan. 6, 2021 were found in the phones of 10 Secret Service staff members. In this photo, members of the US Secret Service stand outside the Brady Briefing Room as the White House is locked down in Washington, DC, on August 10, 2020. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images