The US Secret Service provided the House committee on January 6 with a list of all personal cell phone numbers belonging to agents based in Washington, D.C., for the period under investigation, according to people familiar with the matter. — an unusual step amid scrutiny of the agency’s cooperation with the congressional panel investigating last year’s insurgency and the role then-President Donald Trump played in it .
The committee can now determine which agent call recordings they wish to review and, if they decide to do so, they can either directly request agent recordings or issue subpoenas to their cellphone providers, explained an official familiar with the situation.
The Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the agency, have come under fire in recent weeks for deleting text messages belonging to agents on and around January 6, 2021. Congressional Democrats accused the Homeland Security Inspector General of abandoning efforts to collect text messages and phone records from that day.
Seeking and obtaining information from personal devices from federal workers is a “highly unusual” step by the committee, according to Don Mihalek, a retired senior Secret Service agent, and may reflect a renewed effort by the agency to further demonstrate its cooperation with congressional investigators. .
The Secret Service has faced serious criticism in recent weeks as committee testimony focused on Trump’s conduct on January 6, 2021 and what agents assigned to the White House did and saw on that day. .
At the same time, Mihalek said, the agency’s decision to hand over personal device information to the committee could present thorny legal challenges.
“If the agency released these private phone numbers, the only proper avenue for that would have been via a subpoena or court order,” said Mihalek, an ABC News contributor. “Without that, putting them back could be problematic.”
A Secret Service spokesperson recently acknowledged that some telephone data from January 2021 was lost following a pre-planned data transfer, noting that the transfer was in progress when the Inspector General’s office made application in February 2021.
ABC News reported Thursday that DHS is reviewing its electronic retention policies and will stop wiping the phones of political appointees until the review is complete.
Secret Service and January 6 Committee representatives declined to comment.
ABC News’ Aaron Katersky and Luke Barr contributed reporting.