According to sources familiar with the matter, the US Secret Service has given the House 6 committee a list of all personal cell phone numbers belonging to Washington, D.C.-based agents for the period the panel is investigating — an unusual move amid an unusual move last year. Investigations into the agency’s cooperation with a congressional panel probing the U.S. rebellion and the role then-President Donald Trump played in it.
The committee can now determine which agents’ call records they wish to review and, if they decide to do so, can either request the records directly from the agents or issue summons to their cell phone providers. can, an official familiar with the situation explained.
The Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the agency, have faced criticism in recent weeks. Delete text messages from agents On and around January 6, 2021. Congressional Democrats have accused the Homeland Security Inspector General of abandoning efforts to collect text and phone records since that day.
According to Don Mihalek, a retired senior Secret Service agent, seeking and obtaining information from personal devices from federal employees is a “highly unusual” move by the committee, and renewed efforts by the agency to demonstrate its cooperation with congressional investigators. can reflect effort. ,
The Secret Service has faced severe criticism in recent weeks because committee testimony focused on Trump’s conduct on January 6, 2021, and What the agents assigned to the White House did and saw that day,
Also, Mihalek said, the agency’s decision to hand over personal device information to the committee could present thorny legal challenges.
“If the agency did turn over these private phone numbers, the only appropriate course for that would be through a subpoena or a court order,” said ABC News contributor Mihalek. “Absent, handing them over can be problematic.”
A Secret Service spokesperson recently acknowledged that some phone data from January 2021 was lost as a result of pre-planned data transfers, noting that the transfer was ongoing when the Office of the Inspector General requested it in February 2021.
ABC News reported on Thursday that DHS is reviewing its electronic retention policies And will stop wiping the phones of political appointees till the review is complete.
Representatives of the Secret Service and the January 6 Committee declined to comment.
ABC News’ Aaron Katersky and Luke Barr contributed reporting.