December 3, 2023

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DHS inspector general tells Secret Service to stop investigating potentially missing texts

“This is to notify you that the Section of Homeland Protection Office of Inspector Standard has an ongoing investigation into the information and instances encompassing the collection and preservation of proof by the United States Top secret Service as it relates to the events of January 6, 2021,” DHS Deputy Inspector Typical Gladys Ayala wrote in a July 20 letter to Key Services Director James Murray.

The inspector basic continued: “To assure the integrity of our investigation, the USSS ought to not engage in any more investigative pursuits about the collection and preservation of the evidence referenced higher than. This contains immediately refraining from interviewing potential witnesses, gathering units or taking any other action that would interfere with an ongoing felony investigation.”

The letter provides to the expanding stress amongst the Key Service and the DHS inspector normal over the likely missing text messages, which are getting sought by the Property choose committee as part of its investigation into former President Donald Trump’s steps and actions on January 6, 2021.

Inspectors normal in the federal governing administration can refer the findings of their investigations to federal prosecutors.

The inspector general wrote that the Top secret Provider must explain what interviews had already been performed linked to the text messages, alongside with the “scope off the questioning, and what, if any, warnings had been presented to the witness(es).” The inspector normal told the Magic formula Provider to answer by Monday.

The Top secret Assistance, in a assertion, acknowledged it had obtained the inspector general’s letter. “We have knowledgeable the January 6th Pick out Committee of the Inspector General’s ask for and will perform a thorough lawful review to be certain we are thoroughly cooperative with all oversight attempts and that they do not conflict with each other,” the agency claimed in the assertion.

A spokesperson for the Secret Company, “We are unaware of a prison allegation, but are dedicated to cooperating with the Inspector Normal.”

The Justice Office declined to remark on the reference to an “ongoing prison investigation” in the inspector general’s letter.

The new letter comes immediately after the Top secret Services was only equipped to supply a single text message to the inspector normal, who had asked for a month’s worthy of of information for 24 Top secret Assistance staff, according to a letter to the pick committee.

A DHS Business of Inspector General spokesperson told CNN, “Dependable with Attorney Standard suggestions, DHS OIG usually does not affirm the existence of, or if not comment about, ongoing investigations.”

The directive could complicate the Secret Service’s reaction to a subpoena it received from the Home choose committee final 7 days, as well as a ask for from the Nationwide Archives this 7 days to the DHS documents officer inquiring the company to clear up if the text messages have been deleted and describe why.

The select committee’s chairman, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, wrote in a letter to the Magic formula Assistance director that the panel was seeking text messages from January 5-6, 2021.

What to watch for at Thursday's prime-time January 6 hearing

In a joint assertion Wednesday, Thompson and committee vice chairwoman Rep. Liz Cheney stated they “have considerations” about how the Solution Services mobile telephone facts was deleted.

“The method for preserving articles prior to this purge appears to have been opposite to federal data retention specifications and could characterize a probable violation of the Federal Information Act,” they said.

The Solution Provider told the committee this week that it was engaged in “comprehensive attempts” to decide whether or not any textual content messages had been misplaced and if they have been recoverable. Those steps incorporated “the pulling of any offered metadata to identify what, if any, texts ended up despatched or received on the units of the identified individuals,” the company reported in a letter, as perfectly as interviewing the 24 people today “to decide if messages ended up saved in destinations that have been not already searched by the Key Services.”

The company stated it was “at the moment unaware of textual content messages issued by Solution Company staff” that ended up requested by the inspector typical “that have been not retained.”

The group of 24 folks involves significant-rating officials, a number of of whom remained in a secure place, identified as a SCIF (secured compartmentalized details facility) throughout the day in which cellphones are not permitted, according to a source familiar with the make any difference. The supply also stated about 50 percent of the folks are currently being reviewed to identify if text messages were being despatched and acquired and possibly deleted, and what that information may possibly have been.

Investigators determined that at the very least three of the persons experienced only own text messages, which they did not take into account a general public report, while investigators consider other people have no textual content messages at all, the source explained. The agency has made one relevant text trade so considerably, which it has offered to the inspector normal and the committee. The Secret Services explained to the inspector common very last 12 months that apart from the one text concept, the agency “did not have any even more documents responsive” to the request.

The inspector standard has alleged that the Secret Support erased text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, not lengthy soon after they had been requested by oversight officers investigating the Mystery Service’s reaction to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, according to a letter that the inspector basic sent to the Dwelling select committee.

The Magic formula Assistance has formerly explained that it was up to workforce to perform the required preservation of documents from their telephones. The letter explained the company did offer personnel a “move-by-action” guide to protect cell cellphone information, including text messages, prior to the cellular phone migration that began January 27, 2021. It went on to demonstrate that “all Top secret Assistance employees are accountable for properly preserving federal government documents that may perhaps be made by means of text messaging.”

This tale and headline have been updated with added developments Thursday.

CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.