The investigation came after the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general requested the Secret Service’s text records of 24 people involved on Jan. 6 last year, but only one text had been produced. After the issue became public this month, the inspector general launched a criminal investigation into the matter, and lawmakers demanded answers from the Secret Service to find out what happened to the potentially deleted texts.
But the Secret Service’s internal investigation ground to a halt after a July 20 letter from the DHS Inspector General notifying the agency that a criminal investigation was ongoing and directing the Secret Service to close its own investigation.
Investigators had been working to determine whether the content of the text messages sent by the 10 employees contained relevant information that should be kept, the sources said. Among the 24 intelligence officials examined, 10 other intelligence officials had no text messages, and three only had personal records, according to the sources.
The details of the review of messages from 10 Secret Service employees cap an extraordinary turbulent week for the agency, which began with the Inspector General demanding answers to potentially missing texts and led to a Congressional subpoena and criminal investigation into the matter.
The text messages in question may have been deleted when the agency was conducting a data migration of phones that began on January 27, 2021. According to a letter from the Secret Service to the House of Representatives, which is investigating the riot and also requested news on January 6, the Secret Service inspector general requested paperwork from the 24 staffers in June 2021 — more than two months after the migration was completed.
Members of the House Select Committee have emphasized their belief that the agency should have done more to retain pre-migration records, citing a Jan. 16, 2021 letter from congressional committees to multiple agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis, instructed to retain records related to January 6th.
An attachment to that letter directed the head of the Intelligence and Analysis Bureau, Joe Maher, to distribute this request to relevant DHS components, which theoretically could include the Secret Service.
Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Secret Service, told CNN the agency conducted an eight-hour search of various internal news systems on Thursday to determine if the Jan. 16 request was sent to the Secret Service. No record of that letter ever reached intelligence, he said.
A source familiar with the matter told CNN that the heads of details for both former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, Robert Engel and Tim Giebels, are respectively among the 24 employees whose text messages have been requested for review by the Inspector General. It is not known if Engel and Giebels are among the 10 employees whose phones contained metadata containing text messages.
Engel and Giebels did not respond to CNN requests for comment.
Prior to the inspector general’s letter this week, the Secret Service had told the House of Representatives’ Jan. 6 Committee that it was making “extensive efforts” to determine whether messages were lost and whether they were recoverable, including retrieving metadata and the Questioning of the 24 employees of the agency.
CNN’s Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.