Secret Service Probed for 'Unauthorized Deletion' of Jan. 6 Texts: Report

The National Archives directed the U.S. Secret Service to probe the "unauthorized deletion" of text messages sent by agents January 5 and 6, 2021, the day before and day of the siege on the U.S. Capitol by a mob supporting then-President Donald Trump.

The Secret Service is facing criticism after Joseph Cuffari, inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), wrote to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack that the agency deleted the text messages. Secret Service officials offered a muddled response to the allegations, at first claiming the texts were deleted during a phone replacement program, but later claimed the messages were not deleted at all.

Laurence Brewer, the federal government's chief records officer, sent a letter to the Secret Service on Tuesday directing officials to investigate the allegedly deleted messages.

Secret Service officials must send the National Archives, the government agency that preserves government documents, a report about the text messages within 30 days, according to the letter that was also sent to Newsweek.

Secret Service probed allegedly deleted text messages

The National Archives on Tuesday directed Secret Service officials to send them a report about allegedly deleted text messages sent on or around January 6, 2021. Above, a Secret Service agent is seen in Scotland on July 6, 2005. Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

"This report must include a complete description of the records affected, a statement of the exact circumstances surrounding the deletion of messages, a statement of the safeguards established to prevent further loss of documentation, and details of all agency actions taken to salvage, retrieve, or reconstruct the records," the letter said.

In a statement to Newsweek, Secret Service Communications Chief Anthony Guglielmi wrote that the bureau "fully respects and supports the important role of the National Archives and Records Administration in ensuring preservation of historical and government records."

"The agency will have our full cooperation in this review and we will complete the internal review of our information as directed and promptly respond to their inquiry. The Secret Service has long standing established policies regarding the retention of Government Records," the statement said.

Details about what the text messages contained, and a motive the Secret Service may have had for allegedly deleting them, remained unknown, but experts have suggested the issue raises suspicion.

"It's criminal. It's criminal. First of all, you have to understand something, and you've been in the business long enough to know that when you do any sort of investigative journalism, there are two pillars; first is there is no such thing as a coincidence and the second thing is everybody lies. That explains the Secret Service response," author Jeffrey Robinson told CNN.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who sits on the Jan. 6 committee, described the alleged deletion as "quite crazy" on CBS News Sunday.

"In the very least, it is quite crazy that the Secret Service would actually end up deleting anything related to one of the more infamous days in American history—particularly when it comes to the role of the Secret Service," he said.

However, the Secret Service has denied deleting any text messages.

Last week, the January 6 panel issued a subpoena requesting the text messages, as well as any sent afterward pertaining to the events of January 6, the Associated Press reported. The panel has not publicly stated if the Secret Service was able to retrieve and turn over the messages.

Newsweek has reached out to the Department of Homeland Security for comment.

Updated 07/19/2022 5:53 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with a statement from the Secret Service.