Democratic chairs call for inspector general to recuse himself in Secret Service texts probe
“These omissions left Congress in the dark about key developments in this investigation and may have cost investigators precious time to capture relevant evidence,” the Democrats wrote. “There must be no doubt that the Inspector General leading this investigation can conduct it thoroughly and with integrity, objectivity and independence. We do not have confidence that Inspector General Cuffari can achieve those standards.”
In the letter, the lawmakers wrote that the inspector general told Congress in November 2021 that DHS “significantly delayed” access to records related to the review of January 6, but that the inspector general failed to say that the Secret Service was the reason. In addition, Cuffari was informed in December 2021 that text messages “sent and received by Secret Service agents related to the events of January 6 had been erased,” Maloney and Thompson wrote.
“Yet, Inspector General Cuffari took no steps to inform Congress of this serious and flagrant violation of federal records laws,” the lawmakers said. “The DHS IG’s failure to promptly report and escalate the Secret Service’s stonewalling calls into question whether Inspector General Cuffari has the professional judgment and capacity to effectively fulfill his duties in this investigation.”
CNN has reached out for comment to the inspector general’s office.
On July 14, Cuffari told the House and Senate Homeland Security committees that DHS “notified us that many US Secret Service text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, were erased as part of a device-replacement program.”
The following day, Cuffari briefed the House select committee, and the panel issued a subpoena shortly thereafter for records from the Secret Service.
In late 2020, WilmerHale completed its independent investigation into allegations that several senior employees engaged in an assortment of unprofessional behavior “that was designed to undermine and contravene the authority of the two Inspector Generals (IGs) to whom they reported at DHS OIG from late 2017 to 2020.”
Maloney and Thompson sent their letter on Tuesday to Cuffari and Allison Lerner, who chairs the inspectors general umbrella group.
The Democratic chairs added that it was “not the first time” Cuffari had been unwilling to investigate the agency.
“According to reports, Inspector General Cuffari previously refused to investigate the Secret Service’s actions surrounding excessive use of force, as well as its protocols on protecting officials during the coronavirus pandemic, contradicting recommendations from DHS OIG career staff,” they wrote.