The criminal probe into the destruction of text messages from the Secret Service is a “big deal,” according to experts, as the agency faces scrutiny from a House committee investigating the Capitol attack.
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general launched the criminal investigation after it was revealed that text messages from the day before and day of Jan. 6, 2021, were destroyed.
The Secret Service has come under fire for its handling of the Capitol attack, with many questioning why the agency did not do more to stop the rioters from breaching the building.
The criminal probe is likely to add to the scrutiny the Secret Service is facing from the House committee, which is investigating the events of Jan. 6.
“This is a big deal,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. “Any time there’s a criminal probe of an agency, it’s a big deal.”
Wexler added that the House committee is likely to take a close look at the Secret Service’s handling of the Capitol attack, and the destruction of the text messages could be a “smoking gun” that draws more scrutiny to the agency.
“I think the House committee is going to want to know why those text messages were deleted,” he said.
The Secret Service has not commented on the criminal probe. However, in a statement to NBC News, a spokesman said the agency is “fully cooperating” with the House committee’s investigation.
“The Secret Service is fully cooperating with the House Committee on Homeland Security’s investigation and we welcome the opportunity to address any questions they may have,” the spokesman said.
The criminal probe into the Secret Service is just the latest development in the ongoing investigation into the Capitol attack.
The House committee is expected to release its report on the attack later this month. And, last week, the Justice Department announced that it was opening a broad investigation into the events of Jan. 6.
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