The veteran Secret Service agent who was handpicked to lead the agency by former president Donald Trump will put off taking his pension and decamping for a corporate security position while the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog considers whether agents committed criminal violations of federal record-keeping laws.
In an internal memo, Secret Service DirectorJames Murray said he would “briefly delay” his retirement, which had been announced earlier this month, to “help bridge the gap and foster a smooth and meaningful transition for our future director”.
Mr Murray said his decision to remain on post rather than turn in his badge on 31 July as planned was approved by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and the White House.
“I feel strongly about using this time to oversee and ensure our agency’s continued cooperation, responsiveness, and full support with respect to ongoing congressional and other inquiries,” he said in the message distributed to all Secret Service personnel. “Doing so is critically important and I am especially grateful for the extra time to help lead our Service ever forward.”
Mr Murray’s decision to extend his service comes as the DHS inspector general’s office is conducting a criminal investigation into whether special agents on Mr Trump’s protective detail illegally deleted text messages sent and recieved on government-owned phones on and just before 6 January 2021, the day a mob of Mr Trump’s supporters attacked the US Capitol.
Multiple congressional committees sent the agency letters instructing them to preserve records from the period of the attack, including text messages. But Secret Service officials have said messages from that time period sent and recieved on phones belonging to 10 to 20 agents in the Presidential Protective Division were lost due to a pre-planned device upgrade program which coincided with the 20 January 2021 presidential transition.
Yet the fact that so many text messages had gone missing only became widely known outside the agency after the House January 6 select committee revealed that it had recieved just a single text message in response to a subpoena issued to the Secret Service on 15 July.
The Secret Service director told employees that the agency, which was started with the mission of combatting counterfeiting and traces its’ roots to a decree issued by President Abraham Lincoln not long before his assassination, is facing a “unique and challenging time”.
“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,” he said.
Mr Murray, a veteran Secret Service official and former Department of Transportation special agent, was due to begin a new job at Snap, Inc after his retirement became effective. But a Snap spokesperson told The Independent that the company is “supportive of Jim’s decision to delay his retirement to both focus on cooperating with the ongoing investigation in the January 6th attacks, as well as to help ensure a smooth transition to a new director”.
“We will continue to monitor this situation as this investigation continues to unfold,” the spokesperson said.