Inspector General Joseph Cuffari met with the committee behind closed doors for two days after sending lawmakers a letter informing them that the text messages were deleted after surveillance agencies sought records of their electronic as part of its ongoing investigation Communications had requested attack on the Capitol.
After the meeting, members of the Jan. 6 committee expressed concern about the differing versions of events between the inspector general and the Secret Service, and stressed that they wanted to hear from the agency itself.
Cuffari told the committee that the Secret Service did not conduct its own retrospective review regarding Jan. 6 and chose to rely on the inspector general’s investigation, according to a source familiar with the briefing. The inspector general told the committee that the Secret Service had not been fully cooperative in its investigation.
Cuffari’s description gave the impression that the Secret Service was “boring,” the source said. The inspector general informed the committee that they would not be given full access to personnel and records.
Cuffari said he had raised the matter more than once with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and was told to keep trying to obtain the information. Ultimately, Cuffari decided to go to Congress because he was stuck with his concerns within DHS. Separately, a law enforcement official told CNN that Cuffari was going to Mayorkas.
DHS said in a statement that it “has ensured and will continue to ensure that both the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the Special Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol have the requested information feature”.
Thompson told CNN that IG said during their meeting that the Secret Service had not been fully cooperative.
“Well, they haven’t fully cooperated,” the Mississippi Democrat said, adding, “We had limited engagement with the Secret Service.
Thompson said the committee will work to “try to determine if these lyrics can be revived.”
The congressman previously told CNN after the meeting that the committee needed to interview Secret Service officials to learn what happened to the text messages deleted on January 5 and 6, 2021.
“Now that we have IG’s view of what happened. We need to talk to the Secret Service now. And we expect to reach out to them directly,” Thompson said. “One of the things we need to make sure is that what the Secret Service is saying and what IG is saying these two issues are actually one and the same. And now that we have it, we’re going to ask for physical information. And we will make our own decision.”
Democratic Maryland Assemblyman Jamie Raskin, who serves on the January 6 committee, told CNN that there appears to be some “conflicting statements” between the Inspector General of Homeland Security and the Secret Service as to whether the Secret Service’s text messages on January 5th and 6, 2021 are actually gone.
“First, the Department informed us that many US Secret Service text messages dated January 5 and 6, 2021 were deleted as part of a device replacement program. The USSS deleted these text messages after the OIG requested records of the electronic communications from the USSS. as part of our review of the events at the Capitol on January 6,” Cuffari said in the letter.
“Second, DHS employees have repeatedly advised OIG inspectors that they are not permitted to provide records directly to OIG and that such records must first be reviewed by DHS attorneys,” Cuffari added. “This review resulted in weeks of delays in the OIG’s procurement of records and created confusion as to whether all records were made.”
A DHS official provided CNN with a timeline for when IG would be notified by the Secret Service of the missing information caused by the data transfer. In a statement Thursday night, the Secret Service said IG first requested information on February 26, 2021, but didn’t say when the agency acknowledged the issue.
According to the DHS official, the Secret Service has briefed the IG on the migration issue on multiple occasions, beginning on May 4, 2021, then again on December 14, 2021, and in February 2022.
In a statement Thursday night, the Secret Service said the inspector general’s allegation of lack of cooperation was “neither accurate nor new.”
“To the contrary, DHS OIG has previously alleged that its employees were not granted adequate and timely access to materials based on a legal review. DHS has repeatedly and publicly debunked this claim, including in response to OIG’s last two mid-year reports to Congress. It is unclear why OIG is raising this issue again,” the statement said.
After IG initially requested records from more than 20 people in February, IG returned to request more records for more people, the law enforcement official said. No text messages were received for the new request because they were lost in the system transmission, the law enforcement official said. The official also said the agency had been notified of the transition and had sent guidance on how to keep phone records from the IT department.
CNN law enforcement analyst Jonathan Wackrow, who worked for the Secret Service for 14 years, said it made sense for the inspector general to conduct the review after Jan. 6. From a Secret Service perspective, both the president and vice president are safe, so the agency would not consider this incident a follow-up report, Wackrow said.
This story was updated with additional developments on Friday.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.