According to two sources who spoke to CNN, Secret Service investigators were looking closely at the phones of 10 Secret Service employees that had metadata indicating text conversations were made and received around January 6, 2021, but were not retained.
The investigation started after the Department of Homeland Security inspector general requested the text records of 24 Secret Service agents who were involved in the events on January 6 last year, but only one text had been produced. The inspector general opened a criminal inquiry into the situation when it became public last month, and legislators requested answers from the Secret Service to look back and see what happened to the texts that might have been deleted.
CNN: "Secret Service investigators were scrutinizing the phones of 10 Secret Service personnel that contained metadata showing text messages were sent and received around January 6, 2021." Somebody is playing catch me if you can.
— Jim Helminski (@jhelminski) July 22, 2022
However, the Secret Service’s internal inquiry came to an end after receiving notification of an ongoing criminal investigation from the DHS inspector general in a letter dated July 20.
According to the sources, investigators were trying to figure out if the 10 employees’ texts contained important information that ought to have been saved. The sources claim that of the 24 Secret Service employees under investigation, 10 had no text messages and three had only personal records.
NOW: The investigation into the Secret Service’s deleted text messages is now a CRIMINAL investigation by the Department of Homeland Security.
— Brian J. Karem (@BrianKarem) July 21, 2022
The inspector general’s request for information regarding possible missing texts was the beginning of an extraordinary week of turbulence for the agency that resulted in a congressional subpoena, a criminal probe, and the details of the review of messages from 10 Secret Service employees.
The agency may have destroyed the relevant text messages during the data migration of phones that started on January 27, 2021. The inspector general requested records from the 24 employees in June 2021, more than two months after the migration was finished, according to a letter the Secret Service sent to the House select committee looking into the uprising, which has also requested messages pertaining to January 6 from the Secret Service.
Anonymous, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find all the deleted secret service text messages
— Jeff Tiedrich (@itsJeffTiedrich) July 15, 2022
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis were among the agencies that received a letter from congressional committees on January 16, 2021, instructing them to preserve records pertaining to January 6. Members of the House select committee have emphasized that they believe the agency should have done more to preserve records before the migration.
The chief of the intelligence and analysis office, Joe Maher, was given instructions in an addendum to that letter to distribute that request to pertinent DHS components, which might theoretically include the Secret Service.
NEW: National Archives instructs US Secret Service to investigate “unauthorized deletion” of Secret Service text messages from Jan 2021 pic.twitter.com/uLE95vEHip
— Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews) July 19, 2022
According to Anthony Guglielmi, a Secret Service spokesperson, the agency searched through several internal message systems for eight hours on Thursday to see if the request from January 16 had been forwarded to the Secret Service. He said that the Secret Service was never made aware of this letter.
The heads of the detail for both former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, Robert Engel, and Tim Giebels, respectively, are among the 24 employees whose text messages the inspector general requested be reviewed, according to a source familiar with the situation who spoke to CNN. It’s unclear if Engel and Giebels are among the 10 employees whose phones included information revealing text messages.
2/ …the peaceful transition of power after free and fair democratic elections, the 1/6 committee, DOH, and the Department of Homeland Security must absolutely step the hell up.
This isn't whether Steve Bannon is a scabrous scrapegallow or Mook Meadows…
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) July 20, 2022
Prior to the inspector general’s letter this week, the Secret Service had informed the House committee on January 6 that it was making “extensive efforts” to ascertain whether any messages were lost and whether they could be recovered. These efforts included pulling metadata and speaking with the 24 agency employees.