The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General said messages sent between Jan. 5 and 6 were deleted “as part of a device-replacement program,” according to a letter to lawmakers, dated Wednesday, obtained by the Associated Press.
The messages were erased after OIG requested electronic communications between the agents during its probe into the Capitol siege.
Homeland Security personnel were also told they couldn’t provide records to the inspector general and any records would first have to be reviewed by DHS attorneys.
“This review led to a weeks-long delays in OIG obtaining records and created confusion over whether all records had been produced,” the letter, which was shared with leaders of the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees, states.
The Secret Service, in response, denied any malintent with the erasure of the messages.
“The insinuation that the Secret Service maliciously deleted text messages following a request is false. In fact, the Secret Service has been fully cooperating with the OIG in every respect — whether it be interviews, documents, emails, or texts,” the federal agency said in a statement, obtained by Politico.