Secret Service head delays retirement amid probe into erased texts

U.S. Secret Service Director James Murray will delay his retirement as the agency faces an investigation into text messages sent the day before and of the Capitol insurrection that were deleted. 

Murray, who was set to retire at the end of the month after leading the agency since 2019 and take a job in the private sector, said in a message to the Secret Service that he decided to “briefly” delay his retirement to help facilitate a smooth transition to the agency’s next director. 

He said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and the White House have agreed to him staying on for a little longer. 

“As I have communicated to you recently, this is a unique and challenging time for our agency,” Murray said in the message. “Now, as always, our prime priorities are the success of our mission; the welfare of our people; and our collective and individual responsibility to serve our country and fellow citizens in a manner that is always Worthy of Trust and Confidence.” 

The Secret Service has faced scrutiny in the past couple weeks after the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) informed members of Congress that the agency deleted texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, as part of a “device-replacement program.” 

DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari said in the letter earlier this month that the Secret Service erased the messages after the inspector general’s office had requested electronic communications from the agency as part of its investigation into the insurrection. 

Lawmakers asked Cuffari to step aside from his investigation into the erased messages Tuesday, arguing that he failed to “notify Congress of crucial information.” 

The Secret Service has denied “maliciously” deleting the messages and that the agency has been cooperating with the DHS inspector general’s investigation. 

Murray said in his message that he feels strongly about using the time to ensure the Secret Service’s continued cooperation, responsiveness and full support in congressional and other inquiries. 

He said the selection process to choose the next director is active and ongoing.