House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney and House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson reiterated Inspector General Joseph Cuffari’s call to step down in a letter Monday, voicing concern over “your lack of transparency and independence, which appears to jeopardize the integrity of a country.” A very important investigation by your office.”
Maloney and Thompson also solicit transcribed interviews with key DHS IG employees. CNN first reported that DHS investigators general abandoned efforts to recover lost Secret Service text messages in July 2021, a year before Cuffari reported his concerns over the Secret Service and DHS transparency to congressional oversight committees.
“The committees have obtained new evidence that your office may have secretly abandoned efforts to collect text messages from the Secret Service more than a year ago,” the letter said. “These documents also suggest that your office may have taken steps to cover missing records, raising further concern about your ability to independently and effectively perform your duties as Chief Inspector (IG).”
The committees are requesting a range of communications and documents by Monday, from correspondence about decisions not to collect or recover text messages to correspondence about informing Congress.
A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General told CNN it “did not discuss the ongoing administrative investigations and did not confirm the existence of criminal investigations or otherwise comment.”
The guard defends himself
However, in an internal email to employees obtained by the Government Oversight Project and shared with CNN, Cuffari defended himself and commended them for their work during the “attack of unfair criticism.”
“Over the past few weeks, DHS OIG has been the subject of a tremendous amount of public speculation,” Cuffari told staff in an email obtained by the Government Oversight Project and shared with CNN.
“Due to US Attorney General’s guidelines and quality standards, we are not always able to respond publicly to false or inaccurate information about our work,” he wrote. “I am proud of the resilience I have witnessed in the face of this attack of worthless criticism.”
The email, sent at 2:28 p.m. Monday, came shortly before key House Democrats accused Cuffari’s office of manipulating and neglecting information about the missing Secret Service and senior DHS officials’ investigation into text messages.
The letter shows that DHS deputy inspector general Thomas Kait wrote an email to DHS senior liaison Jim Crumpacker on July 27, 2021, reporting that DHS investigators were no longer looking for text messages. Kait is one of the staff members the committee wants to meet now.
“Jim, please use this email as a reference to our conversation where I said we no longer want phone records and text messages from the USSS. [United States Secret Service] Regarding the events of January 6,” according to the letter in the email.
The letter also confirms that CNN reported that the investigation into the text messages was reopened in December 2021.
Lawmakers said in Monday’s letter that Kait removed “key language” from a note sent to DHS in February, underscoring the importance of text messages in the inspector general’s investigation. The original note stated that most DHS components did not provide the requested information and the text message content was “a critical source of information for DHS OIG review”, but the latest version stated the opposite, saying they had a response. letter.
“These documents are troubling that your office has not only failed to inform Congress for more than a year that critical evidence in this investigation is missing, but that your senior staff have deliberately chosen not to pursue this evidence and then have taken steps to cover it up. It raises new concerns. This increases failures,” the letter states.
Two top Homeland Security officials in the administration of former President Donald Trump – acting Secretary Chad Wolf and acting Ken Cuccinelli – continue by quoting the missing text messages. Information obtained by the committee revealed that the inspector general knew these messages were inaccessible in February, but did not inform Congress. CNN reached out to Cuccinelli for comment.
The final twist in the legend
Monday’s letter is another twist in the ongoing saga about missing messages around January 6. Notes obtained by CNN show that the Department of Homeland Security is constantly reminding the workforce that they must comply with the inspector general and relevant Hill committees.
After the Office of the Inspector General expressed concern to Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Majorkas about complying with the requests, the secretary issued a September 2021 memo stating that employees should cooperate and provide information in negotiations.
“The Department is committed to supporting OIG’s mission. DHS employees are expected to cooperate with OIG audits, inspections, investigations and other investigations. Any effort to conceal information or prevent OIG from performing its critical work is against Department directives and has serious consequences,” he says. in the note.
Then, in October 2021, DHS General Counsel Jonathan Meyer issued a special note to January 6, 2021, saying the office was cooperating with the House selection committee investigating the Capitol Hill riot.
“I therefore direct the Department and its Components to respond promptly and fully to all requests received by the Select Committee,” the memo reads. “This kind of cooperation and transparency is vital to the Ministry’s obligation to protect our Nation and its fundamental democratic principles.”