A criminal investigation has been opened into deleted Secret Service text messages from around the January 6 Capitol riot.
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general sent a letter to the Secret Service informing the agency to stop internal investigations on the matter until the criminal inquiry is done.
DHS Deputy Inspector General Gladys Ayala wrote to Secret Service Director James Murray.
She said: ‘To ensure the integrity of our investigation, the USSS must not engage in any further investigative activities regarding the collection and preservation of the evidence referenced above.
‘This includes immediately refraining from interviewing potential witnesses, collecting devices or taking any other action that would interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation.’
News of the criminal investigation came hours before the House select committee investigating the insurrection holds its eighth and final public hearing.
The deleted texts were expected to be discussed during the hearing, as they were expected to potentially reveal details on then-President Donald Trump’s actions on the day of the insurrection.
A senior official on Tuesday said said the from January 5 and 6, 2021.
It was not immediately clear if the criminal inquiry could be referred to the Department of Justice.
A Secret Service spokesperson said: ‘The Secret Service is in receipt of the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s letter.
‘We have informed the January 6th Select Committee of the Inspector General’s request and will conduct a thorough legal review to ensure we are fully cooperative with all oversight efforts and that they do not conflict with each other.’
The DHS’s letter makes the situation legally complex, a Secret Service official told NBC News. Though the DHS has asked the Secret Service to halt its internal investigation, the Secret Service still faces a subpoena from the January 6 committee demanding information about the texts from the National Archives and Records Administration.
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