“First, the Department notified us that several U.S. Secret Service text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, were destroyed as part of a device replacement program. The USSS destroyed those text messages after the OIG requested records of electronic communications from the USSS. A review of the events at the Capitol on January 6 As part of doing so,” the letter from DHS IG Joseph Gaffari stated.
“Second, DHS personnel have repeatedly told OIG inspectors that they are not permitted to provide records directly to OIG and that such records must first be reviewed by DHS attorneys,” Cuffari added. “This review led to weeks of delays in receiving OIG records and created confusion as to whether all records had been produced.”
The U.S. Secret Service and Homeland Security inspector general did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Representative. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, chairs both the House Homeland Security and January 6 committees. He acknowledged receipt of the letter to the committee in a statement Thursday evening.
“The Committee on Homeland Security received a letter from the DHS inspector general regarding the Secret Service’s deletion of text messages requested by the Office of the Inspector General as part of its investigation into the attack on the Capitol on January 6,” Thompson said. “The committee will be briefed on this extraordinarily disturbing destruction of records and will respond accordingly.”
While the letter did not say whether the DHS watchdog believed the text messages were destroyed intentionally or for nefarious reasons, the incident raises questions about the Secret Service’s response to the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
A former adviser to then-Vice President Mike Pence also mentioned the Secret Service in his testimony. Greg Jacobs, a former adviser to Pence, told the committee that the vice president refused to get into the vehicle after Pence was escorted out of the Capitol, raising concerns that the driver would have taken him to a safe place and thus prevented him from certifying the election results.
More than a year after the riots, a public review by the Homeland Security Inspector General of the Secret Service and its operations is underway on January 6.
This story was updated Thursday with additional updates.
CNN’s Whitney Wilde and Hannah Rabinowitz contributed to this report.