People put a lot into text messages that they likely don’t intend for anyone else to ever see. People really should be more careful about that, because you never know when someone might request your phone and to see your messages, be it a romantic partner or a Congressional hearing. Now, people are wondering what the Secret Service was texting around January 6, 2021.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General Joseph Cuffari requested text messages from 24 Secret Service personnel for the period from Dec. 8, 2020, to Jan. 8, 2021, for purposes of the Select Committee Investigating the events of January 6 at the Capitol.
They provided one.
On January 16, 2021, and again on January 25, 2021, Congress informed the Secret Service it needed to preserve and produce documents. Now, the Secret Service says it doesn’t have, and can not recover, any text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021 and it only has one from the period requested.
“The Secret Service submitted the responsive records it identified, namely, a text message conversation from former US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund to former Secret Service Uniformed Division Chief Thomas Sullivan requesting assistance on January 6, 2021, and advised the agency did not have any further records responsive to the DHS OIG’s request for text messages,” Assistant Director Ronald Rowe wrote in the letter to the January 6 committee.
There is no indication that anyone has “secured the phones in question and done some forensic work with them. That’s something we want to know,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren. “This obviously, this doesn’t look good. Coincidences can happen but we really need to get to the bottom of this and get a lot more information than we have currently.”
The Secret Service has explained that it had a “phone migration” that began on January 27. This was after it received the demand to preserve and produce records. The Secret Service says that “all Secret Service employees are responsible for appropriately preserving government records that may be created via text messaging.”
“The Secret Service continues to engage in extensive efforts to further assess whether any relevant text messages sent or received by 24 individuals identified by the DHS OIG were lost due to the Intune migration and, if so, whether such texts are recoverable,” Assistant Director Ronald Rowe wrote. “These efforts include the pulling of any available metadata to determine what, if any, texts were sent or received on the devices of the identified individuals.” The agency is also interviewing the 24 users “to determine if messages were stored in locations that were not already searched by the Secret Service.”
No matter how you slice it, this looks bad. Maybe those 24 Secret Service agents don’t ever text? That would be wise. But no one has said that. What do you think is going on here?