Jan. 6 Panel Issues Subpoena to Secret Service in Hunt for Text Messages

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WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the attack on the United States Capitol issued a subpoena to the Secret Service late Friday seeking text messages from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, that were said to have been erased, as well as any after-action reports.

In a statement, the committee’s chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, said the panel was seeking records from “any and all divisions” of the Secret Service “pertaining or relating in any way to the events of Jan. 6, 2021.”

The development came after the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of the Secret Service, met with the panel and told lawmakers that many of the texts were erased as part of a device replacement program even after the inspector general had requested them as part of his inquiry into the events of Jan. 6.

The Secret Service has disputed parts of the inspector general’s findings, saying that data on some phones had been “lost” as part of a planned three-month “system migration” in January 2021, but none pertinent to the inquiry.

The agency said that the project was underway before it received notice from the inspector general to preserve its data and that it did not “maliciously” delete text messages.

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the committee, said the panel wants to hear more from the Secret Service to try to understand what happened.

“The committee is absolutely determined to get to the bottom of this and to find all of the missing texts,” Mr. Raskin told reporters on Capitol Hill. “They are missing, but in the age of high technology, we should not give up.”

The subpoena comes as the committee continues to barrel ahead in its investigation even as it prepares for what could be the final hearing of its summer schedule: a prime-time session on Thursday focused on former President Donald J. Trump’s 187 minutes of inaction as a mob of his supporters assaulted Congress.

Mr. Byrne was present at what was perhaps the most dramatic meeting of the Trump presidency on Dec. 18, 2020, in which Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, and Sidney Powell, the pro-Trump lawyer, pressed to seize voting machines and name Ms. Powell as a special counsel to work to overturn the election.

Mr. Thompson said the panel also has been discussing what to do about some more high-profile potential witnesses.

Virginia Thomas, a political activist who pushed to overturn the 2020 election and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is “still on the committee’s list” of witnesses to call, even though she has rebuffed attempts to interview her, Mr. Thompson said.

Mr. Thompson also told reporters the panel was continuing to discuss — as members have for months — whether it should try to summon Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence to testify, but lawmakers have not reached a conclusion about how to proceed.

The panel believes both men would probably fight attempts to get them to testify, and some lawmakers worry a public battle over Mr. Trump’s compliance would distract from the actual work of fact finding.

Mr. Thompson has previously said the committee had ruled out a subpoena for Mr. Pence, citing “significant information” it had received from two of his aides, Marc Short and Greg Jacob.

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