WASHINGTON — Secret Service brokers requested the company for a file of the entire communications seized from their private cellphones as a part of investigations into the occasions of Jan. 6, 2021, however have been rebuffed, in response to a doc reviewed by NBC Information.
The Secret Service’s workplace that handles such requests, the Freedom of Info Act Program, denied the request, by which brokers invoked the Privateness Act to demand extra details about what had been shared from their private gadgets.
The request was made in early August, simply after information got here to gentle that each Congress and the Division of Homeland Safety’s inspector common have been all for acquiring textual content messages of Secret Service brokers that had been erased as a part of what the company mentioned was a deliberate improve.
“This letter is the ultimate response to your Privateness Act inquiry submitted on Aug. 4, 2022, for info pertaining to the discharge of non-public cellular phone info and/or different private identifiable info (PII) by the U.S. Secret Service,” mentioned the letter, dated final Wednesday.
“The company has decided that regulation doesn’t require a information disclosure accounting to be made in connection together with your request,” the letter continued.
The brokers’ effort to seek out out by means of an FOIA request what information have been seized and the following denial of the request underscore a pressure between rank-and-file Secret Service brokers and the company’s management over what communications needs to be shared with investigators.
NBC Information beforehand reported that two sources with information of the motion mentioned Secret Service management seized 24 cellphones from brokers concerned with the response to the Jan. 6 revolt on the U.S. Capitol.
A supply aware of the cellphone seizure advised NBC Information beforehand that some brokers have been upset that their leaders have been fast to confiscate the telephones with out their enter.
The letter additionally raises key questions on what Secret Service communications each congressional and inspector common’s investigators might have. Whereas the textual content messages are believed to be unrecoverable, different communications, resembling these despatched on private telephones and emails, could also be below evaluate and will shed new gentle on the company’s response.
The Secret Service declined to remark.
The content material of texts Secret Service brokers despatched on Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, attracted elevated curiosity in June after former White Home aide Cassidy Hutchinson advised the Home Jan. 6 committee that she had heard secondhand that former President Donald Trump lunged at a Secret Service agent when he refused to drive Trump’s automotive towards the Capitol through the revolt. Trump has denied lunging on the agent.
Most just lately, a member of the far-right Oath Keepers group testified in court docket that the chief of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, was in communication with not less than one Secret Service agent earlier than the Jan. 6 revolt. Rhodes and different Oath Keepers have been charged with and pleaded not responsible to sedition for his or her roles within the assault on the Capitol.