Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) revealed on MSNBC Thursday that agents with the U.S. Secret Service have retained their own outside lawyer after it was announced that they were potentially facing criminal prosecution for failing to preserve documents, an ongoing demand of all federal government agencies.
MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace asked if it was new that they had private counsel or if they had just retained the private lawyer. Lofgren said she believes that it's a new person.
"I can't give you an exact day, but it is new," she said.
Speaking about the issue, former FBI official Frank Figliuzzi called it a significant piece of information.
"So, timing is everything, right?" he said. "Everyone has the right to counsel, of course, but the timing is important here because if they didn't invoke the right to counsel, they didn't. If they didn't acquire counsel because they didn't think anything was wrong and they weren't under criminal scrutiny and they did it after figuring out 'we're in trouble here' — and we don't know when they heard that the DHS inquiry had turned criminal ... that would be significant."
"So, I get it if you're under criminal inquiry, you should retain counsel, but if they retained counsel earlier than knowing that DHS had formally opened a criminal case, that means they thought they did something potentially unlawful to begin with and that's very significant."
The Secret Service commented that the actual department doesn't have private counsel and that it is the federal employees that hired the private attorneys.
After the Thursday hearing, Lofgren confirmed in a conversation to CNN that those who have retained private counsel, before the criminal probe was announced are, Tony Ornato, who currently serves as the Assistant Director of the United States Secret Service Office of Training, Special Agent in Charge Robert 'Bobby' Engel, who was the lead agent on Trump's detail, and the driver of the SUV.
See the discussion and interview with Lofgren below:
Secret Service got a private lawyer www.youtube.com