US Secret Service set to produce deleted texts from January 6 riots

House committee investigating Capitol assault to hold final hearing this week

A Secret Service agent watches as President Donald Trump speaks in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 7, 2020. AFP
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The House of Representatives committee investigating the US Capitol assault expects to receive text messages it has subpoenaed from the Secret Service within days, panel member Zoe Lofgren said on Sunday.

A government inspector general told the panel last week that the agency was not co-operating with its inquiry into the January 6, 2021 attack by supporters of former president Donald Trump, prompting the committee to subpoena the records.

A US Secret Service spokesman said on Saturday the agency will co-operate “by responding swiftly” to the subpoena.

“We need all of the texts for the 5th and 6th,” Ms Lofgren, a California Democrat, said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, noting the texts should be produced by Tuesday.

“I was shocked to hear they didn’t back up their data before they reset their iPhones.”

Some of the most riveting evidence from the panel’s televised hearings concerned the president at the time Mr Trump’s actions after he addressed a rally near the White House on January 6.

A former aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, said she was told Mr Trump wanted to join the mob then march on the Capitol, but was blocked by his security detail and a physical altercation took place.

The text messages could provide insight into that episode as well as security concerns surrounding the vice president at the time, Mike Pence, who had gone to the Capitol to preside over the Electoral College certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

The committee plans to wrap up public hearings with a prime-time session on Thursday.

The hearing “will go through pretty much minute by minute” what Mr Trump did on January 6 after he addressed supporters at a rally near the White House, who then marched to the Capitol, Representative Elaine Luria said.

That includes when he “left the stage at the Ellipse, came back to the White House, and really sat in the White House, in the dining room, with his advisers urging him continuously to take action, to take more action,” the Virginia Democrat said on CNN’s State of the Union.

Ms Luria said the hearing will incorporate previously undisclosed evidence from other White House staff who have not spoken previously.

They “will add a lot of value and information to the events of that critical time on January 6,” she said, without disclosing details.

Even if Thursday’s hearing is the last, the investigation will continue as “it’s very active with additional witnesses coming forward,” with both interim and final reports to be issued later this year, Ms Lofgren said.

The Homeland Security department’s inspector general, Joseph Farica, said in a letter to the committee on Wednesday that texts from Secret Service agents on January 5 and January 6, 2021 were reported lost during an equipment replacement after his office asked for them.

The agency, which is a unit of Homeland Security, says the texts in dispute were not requested until after the equipment changeover had erased some.

“The Secret Service notified DHS OIG of the loss of certain phones’ data, but confirmed to OIG that none of the texts it was seeking had been lost,” the agency said in a statement on Thursday.

Updated: July 17, 2022, 7:34 PM