On Tuesday, we learned the Secret Service deleted text messages sent around the Jan. 6, 2021, attack and is unlikely to recover them, according to multiple reports.
Last week, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general notified the House Jan. 6 committee that the Secret Service erased text messages sent on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, as part of a “device-replacement program.” A source told NBC News on Tuesday that the Secret Service had no new texts to hand over to the committee.
“We are conducting forensic examinations on cell phones and while it’s unlikely that the data could be recovered, we are using every investigative resource to meet the committees request,” a Secret Service spokesperson told ABC News.
Remember: The Secret Service has been at the center of the Jan. 6 committee investigation ever since former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson testified that she heard that Trump physically tried to force Secret Service agents to drive him to the Capitol the day of the attack. Neither of the two Trump aides named in that part of Hutchinson’s testimony — Robert Engel and Tony Ornato — have publicly commented on her remarks. The Secret Service said both men deny that Trump got physical, though neither of them have gone back to the committee to testify, according to CNN.
And all of this — from the texts controversy to the Secret Service’s seeming indebtedness to Trump — suggests the agency has become a full-on national security threat.
That’s true whether or not the Secret Service deliberately deleted texts to protect Trump. At best, the agency tasked with protecting the president committed a clerical error so flagrant it may have jeopardized an investigation into an assault on our democracy. At worst, the Secret Service (up to this very moment) is engaging in a cover-up to protect President Joe Biden’s predecessor, who effectively tried to stage a coup.
Both scenarios are bad. We’re just waiting for proof of whether this was fireable incompetence or fireable malfeasance.
All this poses a legitimate question: Does Biden have ops in the Secret Service?
It may sound like the stuff of action films, but at least a little bit of smoke preceded the fire that is this latest controversy. Biden made personnel changes to the Secret Service during the presidential transition in 2020 because of concerns that some members had expressed troubling loyalty to Trump, The Washington Post reported at the time. That alone posed national security questions. But no one knows how much pro-Trump loyalty permeates the Secret Service. Twenty months later, in light of the texts fiasco, that question still lingers.