James Murray Prepares for Secret Service Probe as Retirement Plans Derailed

Secret Service Director James Murray is delaying his scheduled retirement as the agency faces investigations into deleted text messages around the January 6 attack.

Murray, who was due to retire on Sunday, July 31, after 27 years at the Secret Service, announced in an internal memo that he will "briefly delay" leaving in order to "oversee and ensure our agency's continued cooperation, responsiveness, and full support" with regards to separate investigations into the agency.

"Doing so is critically important and I am especially grateful for the extra time to help lead our Service ever forward," Murray wrote in the memo obtained by CBS and other news organizations.

The Secret Service is under scrutiny over deleted text messages from around the time of the insurrection in Washington D.C despite requests from Congress and federal investigators that they be preserved.

james murray retirement
Secret Service Director James Murray speaks during the opening ceremony of the Maloney Canine Training Facility at the J. Rowley Training Center, in Laurel, Maryland on September 12, 2019. ANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

The House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot is now demanding to know what happened to the messages, while the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General is launching a criminal investigation into the missing texts.

Murphy previously told MSNBC that the messages were erased when the agency's phones were being moved to a new system in the weeks after the January 6 attack. Murphy said the agency left it up to individual agents to decide which electronic records to keep and which to delete during this switchover.

"Nobody along the way stopped and thought, 'well, maybe we shouldn't do the migration of data and of the devices until we are able to fulfill these four requests from Congress,'" Murphy said.

The Secret Service told the House Select Committee that it was only able to provide one text exchange to the Inspector General's Office after the watchdog requested phone records from two dozen Secret Service personnel between December 7, 2020, and January 8, 2021.

The Secret Service has also been in the spotlight following the testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said Donald Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of the presidential SUV on January 6 so he could join his supporters at the Capitol, then attacked Secret Service agent Bobby Engel when he restrained the then-president.

Engel and Secret Service agent Tony Ornato, Trump's White House chief of operations on January 6, are both reported to be willing to testify against Hutchinson's claims, but so far have not gone on record to do so.

In his memo to staff, Murray acknowledged that the Secret Service is currently facing a "unique and challenging time."

"Now, as always, our prime priorities are the success of our mission; the welfare of our people; and our collective and individual responsibility to serve our country and fellow citizens in a manner that is always Worthy of Trust and Confidence," Murphy added.

"I assure you that, during this brief transition period, I remain committed to pursuing each of these objectives to the fullest measure."

Newsweek has contacted the The Secret Service for comment.