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Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Secret Service over erased text messages

The House committee asked that the agency submit the relevant records by Tuesday, ahead of a high-profile prime-time hearing on Thursday.

WASHINGTON — The House panel investigating the attack on the Capitol issued a subpoena Friday to the Secret Service after a Homeland Security official briefed committee members about the Secret Service erasing text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021.

In a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray, Committee chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the panel wanted any pertinent text messages and other records tied to Jan. 6. He said the request was being made after the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general notified congressional committees of allegations that the Secret Service had erased text messages after the internal watchdog requested records of electronic communications surrounding the Jan. 6 riot.

Thompson's letter was sent after Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari briefed all nine committee members Friday, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Two days earlier, Cuffari said in a letter to two congressional committees he was informed that many of the messages from Jan. 6 and the day before the attack had been erased by the Secret Service “as part of a device-replacement program.” The letter he sent to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee was also given to the Jan. 6 committee.

Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi insisted in a statement Thursday that the agency has fully cooperated with the inspector general’s review and that some text messages were erased before they were requested. Guglielmi also said that the inspector general’s office had been notified of the data loss on some phones and confirmed that “none of the texts it was seeking had been lost in the migration.”

Thompson responded to Guglielmi's rebuttal by requesting the records in Friday's letter to Murray.

“Accordingly, the Select Committee seeks the 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,” he wrote.

The rare public clash between the Jan. 6 committee and a federal agency comes as the panel prepares for a prime-time hearing Thursday where it is expected to provide new details about events tied to the insurrection.

The committee has asked that the agency submit the relevant records by Tuesday.

In response to the January 6th committee’s subpoena for text messages/other pertinent records to the US Secret Service, Guglielmi directed NBC to a tweeted statement which read, “The January 6th Select Committee has had our full and unwavering cooperation since its inception in March of 2021 and that does not change. Over the last 18 months, we have voluntarily provided dozens of hours of formal testimony from special agents and over 790,000 unredacted emails, radio transmissions, operational and planning records. We plan to continue that cooperation by responding swiftly to the Committee’s subpoena.”