On Thursday, ABC News reported that the Department of Homeland Security is temporarily suspending a records retention policy that has drawn anger from House investigators trying to probe the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
"The policy comes in the wake of a retention policy that caused the U.S. Secret Service to wipe text messages from Jan. 6 and surrounding days, losing all text messages from the days and drawing ire from the House Jan. 6 committee," reported Luke Barr. "'Earlier this month, Secretary Mayorkas directed the Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Office of the General Counsel to create and lead a Department-wide working group to conduct a 30-day review of the policies and practices for electronic message retention currently in effect throughout DHS and to recommend any necessary improvements,' the memo written by General Counsel Jonathan Meyer said."
The memo continued: "Such messages include, but are not limited to, email, social media messages, instant messages, and text messages. As technology continues to rapidly evolve, the working group will ensure DHS continues to comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and guidance so as to fully meet the expectations of Congress and our other oversight entities, other key stakeholders, and the American public."
"The directive, sent to department heads, also said the agency will not wipe political appointees' phones until the review is complete," noted the report.
This comes amid widespread condemnation of the Secret Service for wiping information from their phones during periods when they were close to people accused of helping former President Donald Trump try to overthrow the 2020 election. It also comes amid scrutiny on the outgoing Secret Service director, James Murray, for his ties to Trump.
Also facing outrage is Trump-appointed DHS inspector general Joseph Cuffari, who delayed reporting of the missing data to Congress and allegedly "abandoned" an effort by watchdogs to recover the texts.