Lawmakers blast DHS watchdog for abandoning Jan. 6 Secret Service investigation and covering it up

Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., speaks during a House Oversight Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing at the U.S. Capitol on October 7, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Bill Clark-Pool/Getty Images)

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The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General may have abandoned and covered up the agency’s failed efforts to collect text messages from the Secret Service over a year ago relating to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, which key lawmakers are pointing to in their request that he step aside from the investigation.

In a letter Monday, Carolyn Maloney, D-NY and Bennie Thompson, D-MS, aggressively renewed their calls for DHS IG Joseph Cuffari to recuse himself from the Jan. 6th investigation because he failed to notify Congress promptly that the Secret Service had refused for months to comply with the watchdog’s request for information relating to the attack.

“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,” Maloney and Thompson wrote in the letter to Cuffari.

“These documents also indicate that your office may have taken steps to cover up the extent of missing records, raising further concerns about your ability to independently and effectively perform your duties as Inspector General (IG),” said the two Congressman, who chair the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Committee on Homeland Security respectively. 

The Congressman said in the letter that they obtained a July 27, 2021, email from the DHS IG’s office which expressly stopped the request for phone records and text messages from the Secret Service. It is unclear why this occurred at that point in the investigation.

The lawmakers propose that the watchdog for inspectors general, the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, should appoint another IG to carry out the investigation instead of Cuffari.

The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, under which the Secret Service operates, sent a letter to Congress in early July to inform them that text messages sent by agents around the Jan. 6th Capitol attack incident had been deleted.

The Secret Service claimed the erasures were part of a long-planned “system migration,” but such actions have prompted a criminal investigation by DHS after agency investigators could only find one pertinent text message regarding Jan. 6 from over 20 agents that are subject to congressional subpeonas.

The text messages have become particularly significant after former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson highlighted during a House hearing that former President Donald Trump allegedly tried to wrestle control of a Secret Service vehicle in order to try and join his crowd of supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

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Bennie Thompson, Carolyn Maloney, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), House Committee on Homeland Security, House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Secret Service
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