By Julie Kelly
Before and during Donald Trump’s time in the White House, powerful federal agencies aligned to sabotage his candidacy and then his presidency. Once-trusted entities such as the FBI, the intelligence community, and even parts of the U.S. military have burned their credibility by abandoning their missions to instead try to end Trump’s political career.
Does this include the Secret Service?
Unfortunately, the scandal over deleted texts related to January 6 demands the question.
Last month, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that houses the Secret Service, officially informed Congress that text messages the office sought as part of its investigation into the Capitol protest were gone.
“The Department notified us that many U.S. Secret Service (USS) text messages, from January 5 and 6, 2021, were erased as part of a device-replacement program,” Dr. Joseph Cuffari wrote on July 13. “The USS erased those text messages after OIG requested records of electronic communications from the USS, as part of our evaluation of events at the Capitol on January 6,” an investigation Cuffari launched in February 2021.
Cuffari, a Trump appointee, addressed his letter to the Senate and House Homeland Security committees; the chair of the House Homeland Security committee is Representative Bennie Thomspon (D-Miss.) who also heads the January 6 select committee. On January 16, 2021, Congressional Democrats instructed DHS and other key federal agencies to retain all records involving the events of January 6.
Eleven days later, texts on cell phones used by multiple Secret Service officials and agents on duty on January 6 were erased.
A Secret Service spokesman indignantly downplayed the news. “The insinuation that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages following a request is false,” Anthony Guglielmi, communications director for the Secret Service, wrote in a statement on July 14. Mobile devices were reset to factory settings on January 27, 2021 as a result of a “system migration” in the works for three months, Guglielmi insisted. “DHS OIG requested electronic communications for the first time on Feb. 26, 2021, after the migration was well under way.”
A few days later, he admitted the texts “probably were not recoverable.”
Despite Guglielmi’s spin, congressional leaders had already asked DHS officials to produce “all documents and materials that refer or relate to events that could or ultimately did transpire on January 6” before Cuffari opened his inquiry. The devices were evidence in a congressional investigation; failing to archive backups of phones belonging to any DHS employee even remotely tied to what happened on January 6 is highly suspect if not a federal offense.
And the purge did not happen while Trump or his Homeland Security chief were in charge. Between Congress’ first request for DHS to retain all records associated with January 6 and the cell phone “reset” on January 27, 2021, Joe Biden became president—which means the deletions happened on his watch. (David Pekoske, Biden’s current director of the Transportation Safety Administration and a Trump holdover, temporarily served as DHS chief from January 20 until February 2, 2021 when Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed by the Senate.)
So Joe Biden’s DHS is thwarting the internal January 6 investigation—and Cuffari warned congressional Democrats at least twice of the department’s noncooperation.
“During this reporting period, the Department significantly delayed OIG’s access to Department records, thereby impeding the progress of OIG’s review of the January 6 events at the Capitol,” Cuffari wrote in a semiannual report released in September 2021. “The Department repeatedly suggested that OIG might not have a right of access to the records sought, but during the months-long period in which access was delayed the Department did not cite any legal authority—that would have justified withholding the information.” A follow-up report published in March 2022 again warned that “access to Secret Service records [is] impeding the progress of our January 6, 2021 review.”
Bennie Thompson presumably received both reports. Why didn’t he act?
Turns out the controversy reaches the highest levels of the Secret Service in Washington, D.C. To expand his investigation last summer, Cuffari specifically asked DHS for all text messages sent or received by 24 Secret Service officials between December 7, 2020 and January 8, 2021. These weren’t random low-level agents; the list includes James Murray, the director of the Secret Service who just delayed his new gig at Snapchat to remain in the position as the scandal escalates, and Robert Engel, head of Trump’s detail.
The trove presumably would contain thousands of messages and perhaps hundreds just from January 5 and 6. But in response to a subpoena by the January 6 select committee, the Secret Service revealed a bombshell: they could only find one text. The agency then informed the committee that it “did not have any further records responsive to DHS OIG’s request for text messages” but will research whether “such texts are recoverable.”
So, whose homes or offices are being raided right now to retrieve these texts? Oh… that’s right.
Funny how only the evidence that corroborates Trump’s statements or exonerates him and his supporters always comes up missing and the left never cares.