Texts Secret Service Agents Didn't Back Up Are Gone

Agents were apparently tasked with determining what to back up during phone migration
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2022 1:27 PM CDT
Updated Jul 20, 2022 9:15 AM CDT
Sources: 'Missing' Secret Service Texts Are Gone for Good
A US Secret Service officer takes a position in the street as President Donald Trump's motorcade arrives at the White House on Nov. 8, 2020, a day after was defeated by President-elect Joe Biden.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Update: The House Jan. 6 committee said late Tuesday that it received a letter from the Secret Service confirming the text messages the panel was seeking are gone for good. The letter also confirmed the deletion occurred during a planned phone migration that occurred shortly after the Capitol attack, reports the AP. The Hill reports Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democratic committee member, told MSNBC that the Secret Service's process during the phone reset, "as explained to us, was simply to leave it to the agent to determine whether or not there was anything on their phones worth saving that was necessary to save for federal records. And as a result, today they did not receive any texts from their agents when they made that transition that was flagged for preservation." Our original story from Tuesday follows:

The House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on Friday subpoenaed Secret Service text messages sent on Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, only to learn they had been deleted "as part of a device-replacement program"—permanently, it seems. Panel members were on Sunday saying they expected to get recovered texts on Tuesday, and NBC News cited Anthony Guglielmi, a rep for the Secret Service, as saying that none of the texts had been permanently deleted. But the Washington Post cites an unnamed senior official in reporting that any records the agency has to share with the committee have been shared previously; additional texts sent by agents over the two days in question are unrecoverable. ABC News is reporting the same thing via its sources.

The official said that while agents were told to upload their texts to an internal agency drive prior to a planned mid-January 2021 reset and replacement of staff phones, many agents apparently failed to do so. The Secret Service was on Tuesday also given 30 days to report back to the National Archives about "the potential unauthorized deletion" of agency texts. "If it is determined that any text messages have been improperly deleted (regardless of their relevance to the OIG/Congressional inquiry of the events on January 6, 2021), then the Secret Service must send NARA a report within 30 calendar days of the date of this letter with a report documenting the deletion," wrote the country's chief records officer, Laurence Brewer, per CNN. (Read more Jan. 6 hearings stories.)

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