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US: Capitol riot committee subpoenas Secret Service

July 16, 2022

The US House of Representatives panel investigating the storming of the Capitol has issued a subpoena for records from the Secret Service amid revelations that the agency allegedly erased pertinent texts.

Police clear the U.S. Capitol Building with tear gas as supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather outside, in Washington, U.S. January 6, 2021
Lawmakers want to see text messages from Secret Service agents' phones sent during the riot Image: Stephanie Keith/REUTERS

The US House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol issued a subpoena for records from the US Secret Service on Friday after revelations that the agency allegedly erased text messages.

Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the committee, said the panel was seeking "relevant text messages, as well as any after action reports that have been issued in any and all divisions of the USSS pertaining or relating in any way to the events of January 6, 2021."

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general sent a letter to lawmakers on Wednesday, saying "many" messages had been erased by the Secret Service after the watchdog agency asked for records.

The Secret Service denied the accusation on Thursday, saying some phone data was lost during a routine device migration planned before requests for information were made, but added that all of the texts that had been requested were saved.

"A 'routine' clearing of files will require a process, so we want to see what that process is," Thompson said Friday.

Secret Service agents were with then President Donald Trump during the day of the riot and were also with Vice President Mike Pence, who went into hiding at the Capitol after pro-Trump rioters called for him to be hanged.

Panel meets DHS inspector general behind closed doors

The committee investigating the Capitol attack met the DHS inspector general behind closed doors on Friday, American news outlet CNN reported.

Soon after the closed-door briefing, the committee subpoenaed the Secret Service for records relating to its investigation of the Capitol riot.

The committee had originally officially asked for the records in March for all electronic communication received or sent from DHS employees between January 5 and 7, 2021.

It is not clear the kind of messages the DHS believes were deleted or what evidence they may contain.

On January 6, 2021, hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to thwart the certification of Joe Biden's presidential victory. Though unsuccessful, the violence left five dead, including a Capitol police officer. Hundreds of people face prosecution for participating in the riot. 

rm/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP)