As the days pass, the news about the Secret Service deleted text scandal just keeps getting worse. 

Yesterday was no different.  On Saturday, the former head of DHS, Chad Wolf, tweeted a defense regarding his missing texts that, if true, could blow a gigantic hole into the Department’s position that deletion of the all the texts were caused by individual phone holders and occurred in violation of agency instructions.   

As has been covered by this site and virtually every other news source on the planet, the Secret Service claims to have lost every text message, but one, sent or received by all of its agents involved in the events that occurred on January 6th and that these texts were all lost as the result of what Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi described as was ‘part of a pre-planned, three-month system migration.’  https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/22/politics/secret-service-investigators-text-messages/index.html

The Secret Service has further made the less than credible claim that, after informing all of its employees that that they were required to preserve all the records on their cell phones, it then left it up to the individual agents to manually back up all the texts in their phones and that, if an agent failed to back up his texts, those texts would have been permanently deleted during the pre-planned system migration.  Secret Service now says it does not have ANY texts shared between agents from January 6 | Daily Mail Online 

To absolve itself of responsibility for text deletions, the agency states that its employees were sent two emails — at least one prior to Jan. 6, 2021 — reminding them to preserve records on their cellphones, including text messages, before their devices were essentially “restored to factory settings” and texts were lost as part of a planned reset and that, in addition, all employees also were sent a third email on Feb. 4, 2021, instructing them to preserve all communications specific to Jan. 6.  Secret Service was told at least once before Jan. 6, 2021, to preserve texts (nbcnews.com) 

Notwithstanding all of the warnings the agency asserts that it sent to its highly trained (supposedly including to follow orders) agents who were responsible for the security of the President and Vice President on January 6th,  it now claims that not a single text relevant to or from any of those agents’ phones survived deletion during the purported “planned reset.”  Implausible as the agency’s position may sound, it appears to be intended to transfer the blame for not preserving the text messages from the agency to the individual agents.   

Unfortunately, for the agency, the missing deleted texts story continued to grow after it released its position, and not all of the new facts fit with its narrative.  A few days ago, a new story broke, reporting that the deleted text scandal extended beyond the Secret Service, and that “messages between acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli, the department’s top officials at the time, were also lost “in a ‘reset’ of their government phones when they left their jobs in January 2021,” the newspaper said.”  Key texts between Trump DHS officials before Jan. 6 missing -Wash Post | Reuters  (I linked to Reuters instead of the Post because the Reuters version is not behind a paywall)

With this disclosure that the missing texts went beyond the Secret Service, the agency’s already suspect explanation suddenly became even more untenable.   This is because the excuse no longer fit all the individuals whose texts were deleted.    Chief among those who do not fit the excuse is Chad Wolf.   Chad Wolf was the acting Secretary of DHS on January 6th.   The agency cannot plausibly rely on a “he didn’t know any better” excuse for not preserving his texts because, as head of the Department, he would have signed off on the policies set forth in the memos DHS sent to its employees that instructed them to preserve their phone records.  

Chad Wolf responded to being dragged into the deleted texts scandal by throwing the Department under the bus.   In response to the Washington Post story, Chad Wolf posted his defense on Twitter: “I complied with all data retention laws and returned all my equipment fully loaded to the Department. Full stop. DHS has all my texts, emails, phone logs, schedules, etc. Any issues with missing data needs to be addressed to DHS. . .” 

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Wolf’s response to the disclosure that DHS had lost his text messages in the same “reset” as the secret service agents’ texts was to state in no uncertain terms that he had: 1) complied with all data retention laws, and 2) turned his phone into the agency with all of its data, including texts, intact.  Wolf’s statement flat out contradicts the Department’s position that the texts were deleted because each of the individual phone holders caused their own texts to be deleted by failing to follow agency policy regarding document preservation.   If Wolf is telling the truth about his phone, which appears plausible, then somebody else at DHS had to have been responsible for the deletion of his text messages.

Now that the head of DHS on January 6th has contradicted DHS’s official position about who deleted his texts relating to that infamous day, it is clear that neither the agency nor its Trump appointed IG can be trusted to investigate the matter any further.  Because all the parties involved in this sordid scandal are soaked in a thick layer of Trump taint, absent an independent and unbiased investigation it will be impossible for anyone to know who is telling the truth.  However, Wolf’s response to the scandal has now made it all but certain that somebody is lying.  A full-blown outside independent investigation is the only way to get to the bottom of it.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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