Skip to Content

Law enforcement association warns agents of criminal exposure after Secret Service shares personal cell phone numbers with investigators

By Whitney Wild and Jamie Gangel, CNN

The professional association that advocates for federal law enforcement agents warned members of the US Secret Service Tuesday that their personal phone numbers the agency recently released “will likely be used” in a criminal investigation, according to a copy of a letter sent to agents and obtained by CNN.

Last week, CNN reported that the personal cell phone numbers of Secret Service agents had been provided to government oversight bodies probing January 6. The decision to hand over agents’ personal phone numbers is highly unusual and came after weeks of scrutiny over deleted Secret Service text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021.

“Exactly whose numbers were provided, to whom and for what purpose have yet to be determined however, the information will likely be used for a criminal investigation into the USSS employee,” the letter from the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association said.

The letter went to all members of the Secret Service who are members of the FLEOA.

The letter reminds agents that Secret Service attorneys represent the interests of the organization over the individual, and encouraged them to seek FLEOA legal counsel if anyone attempts to contact them about personal records.

Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, blasted the Secret Service in a statement Monday.

“This is a classic demonstration of self-preservation and a desperate attempt by leadership to cover up for their own failings at the expense of the trust and security of their employees,” Cosme wrote in a public statement Monday.

“Personal information should be protected at all costs by agencies, not leaked when convenient to cover up leadership errors,” Cosme wrote.

CNN first reported that DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari notified the Secret Service on July 20 that the probe into missing text messages is a criminal investigation.

Timeline of missing texts

On July 14, Cuffari revealed to lawmakers the Secret Service lost text messages due to a data migration that wiped employees’ phones. A Secret Service spokesman said the data migration began a few weeks after the January 6 insurrection, on January 27, 2021. Roughly a month later, Inspector General investigators made the first of multiple requests for information, but by then, some text messages were lost.

However, Cuffari has drawn the ire of lawmakers who said he did not give them an honest accounting of his investigative efforts, and have repeatedly called for his removal from the investigation into the Secret Service and DHS data loss.

CNN previously reported Cuffari was notified in May 2021 that the data migration caused the loss of text messages. Further, Cuffari’s investigators told DHS in July 2021 the agency was no longer seeking text messages from the Secret Service, as first reported by CNN.

The revelations, as well as information that a deputy inspector general changed language in a memo to suggest agencies were cooperating, prompted lawmakers on the House Oversight and House Homeland Security Committees to accuse Cuffari’s office of a possible coverup and demand records and interviews with key officials at the DHS Office of the Inspector General.

CNN previously reported Secret Service employees were provided instructions and reminded to back up their devices twice prior to a phone migration, making clear the responsibility fell upon the individual to do so.

A letter issued Wednesday by House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson to the Secret Service says notifications were sent to employees on January 14, 2021, and again on January 25, 2021, but that employees were not explicitly directed to preserve text messages.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: cnn-us-politics
cnn us politics
KEYT
national
politics
Author Profile Photo

CNN Newsource

BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION

News Channel 3-12 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content