March 25, 2023

MISSING IN ACTION: Secret Service text scandal continues to grow

MISSING IN ACTION: Secret Service text scandal expands

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The U.S. Secret Service says the deleted texts subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 select committee can’t be recovered. After explosive testimony from former senior White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, the U.S. Secret Service has become a focal point in the investigation.

Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari sent a letter to the committee last week informing them of missing text messages from January 5-6, 2021. The Secret Service has denied erasing the communications, blaming device replacements for the cause.

Former agent Jim Helminski isn’t buying the agency’s excuse. He called them out in a Twitter post.

As shown during the latest public select committee hearing, the Secret Service was aware of potential violence on Jan. 6th and alerted White House officials to the possible danger. Hutchinson testified under oath of an alleged altercation between then-President Donald Trump and his head of security Robert Engel.

Trump reportedly lunged at Engel in anger after the agent refused to take his boss to the Capitol.

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Anthony Guglielmi, the spokesman for the Secret Service, says the device replacement was pre-planned – a month before the Office of the Inspector General requested the text messages. However, records show the select committee actually first requested the messages 10 days after the Capitol attack.

The missing texts hold valuable information as to what happened on the day of the insurrection, including communications between agents with direct knowledge of Trump’s movements and plans on Jan. 6th.

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Speaking anonymously, two people familiar with the system said the probability of the messages being recovered is very low.

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Inspector General Cuffari suggested to the panel that the texts could possibly be reconstructed using forensic tools. The DHS watchdog has accused the agency of deleting the messages after they were requested and of using stall tactics to delay his investigation.

That’s something that the Secret Service has a history of doing.

Journalist Carol Leonnig reported on security lapses within the agency – winning a Pulitzer for her 2015 findings. The Washington Post reporter detailed in her 2021 book, Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service, the unusual and “inappropriate” bonds some members of Trump’s family had with those assigned to protect them.

The committee hoped the text messages would give more detail into Secret Service’s actions leading up to the Capitol attack. Now it’s uncertain if they will ever learn what the agents were saying to each other at the height of the insurrection.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Vinnie Longobardo

is the Managing Editor of Washington Press and a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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