What Is DHS Inspector General Covering Up For Secret Service, Congress Would Like To F*CKING KNOW
And speaking of people who need to go straight to email jail ... it's time to return to the scandal over the deleted Secret Service texts from January 6, 2021. Because House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney is fixing to string the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General up by his balls over this mess. As she should.
To refresh our memories since every news cycle is fucking crazy, a month ago it emerged that the Secret Service had deleted all its texts just two weeks after the Capitol Riot when the agency upgraded its phones. Which meant that the agents couldn't help the House January 6 Select Committee investigate what happened that day, too bad so sad. In a July 13 letter to the Homeland Security committees in both the House and Senate, DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari attempted to get out in front of the issue, reporting that he'd done his best to investigate, only to be stymied by those darn Secret Service guys.
Turns out, not so much. As The Guardian's Hugo Lowell pointed out, the first request for those texts came from Congress on January 16, 2021, just 10 days after the attack on the Capitol. So if the Secret Service members needed a reminder not to delete their work messages about a coup — a statement which beggars belief — they had it.
Since then, there's been an avalanche of reporting, led by the Project on Government Oversight, demonstrating that Inspector General Cuffari not only knew about the deleted Secret Service texts, but he went to great lengths to keep Congress from finding out about them. And while he was at it, Cuffari also buried information about domestic abuse and sexual harassment by employees of DHS. Because he is a renaissance garbage person! Naturally, Senator Josh Hawley loves Cuffari, who was appointed by Trump in 2019.
In an extremely pissed off letter yesterday, Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney and Vice Chair Bennie Thompson laid out the timeline.
In May, the committee asked Cuffari for documents about the domestic abuse allegations, and in August he responded by saying that he'd have to consult the Office of Legal Counsel before handing over "deliberative records" to Congress — i.e., he gave them an administrative middle finger. Similarly, in July the committee asked for information about the deleted Secret Service texts. But this time the "fuck you" was even more blatant, with Cuffari announcing a criminal investigation by his own office, ordering the Secret Service to cease its own investigation, and declaring that he'd have to stop working with Congress at all:
Sharing information about ongoing criminal investigations could impact potential witnesses or others who may be involved in the investigative process. To protect the integrity of our work and preserve our independence, we do not share information about ongoing matters, like the information you requested in your letters. Similarly, we do not authorize our staff to sit for transcribed interviews with your committee about these ongoing matters. Once these matters are complete, we will consider a renewed request for documents, briefings, or transcribed interviews.
Needless to say, that's a new rule Cuffari just pulled out of his ass. As Maloney and Thompson point out, the existence of the Mueller Investigation didn't put the kibosh on eleventy million congressional inquiries as to how the FBI came to investigate the Trump campaign's interactions with the Russian government.
“We are concerned that you are now improperly using a criminal investigation that you only recently announced to hide evidence from Congress of your misconduct and mismanagement,” they write. And they point to reporting from POGO (the Project on Government Oversight) that Cuffari nixed five paragraphs copping to the Secret Service text problem from his semiannual report to Congress in June 2022, in violation of his statutory obligation to disclose both agency failures and obstruction of his oversight.
The final June 2022 semiannual report submitted to Congress did not include any of this language. It did not reveal that Secret Service text messages had been erased—or even mention text messages at all. The failure to notify Congress of the destruction of text message related to the January 6th attack set back efforts to recover these crucial communications and complete this important investigation.
You also failed to take several other steps to inform Congress about this issue. In addition to your failure to send a seven-day letter, you also failed to send a management alert, which is intended to be sent when your office identifies an “immediate and serious threat of waste, fraud and abuse.” According to the DHS OIG website, “These alerts, usually triggered by findings made in the course of our audit, inspections and investigative work, may also contain recommendations to correct the identified concerns.” Career staff in your office reportedly drafted a management alert in October 2021 that would have alerted Congress and the public, but you “rejected sending the alert.”
Cuffari also forgot to mention that texts from Chad Wolf and Ken Cucinelli, high-ranking officials at DHS on the day of the Capitol Riot, were missing. Also the minor detail of him cutting off efforts to forensically retrieve the missing texts. Wow, this guy has a bad memory, huh?
POGO has long urged President Joe Biden to fire Cuffari, and Your Wonkette agrees wholeheartedly. Seriously, Joe, WTF?
In the meantime, Maloney is about ready to stuff her gavel up that dude's derriere.
"Your failure to comply with our outstanding requests lacks any legal justification and is unacceptable. Please provide all responsive documents by August 23, 2022, and make the individuals requested for transcribed interviews available by the same date," she wrote. "If you continue to obstruct, we will have no choice but to consider alternate means to ensure compliance."
DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! Haul his ass in and put him on national television — ask Rep. Liz Cheney how to do it for maximum effect, she's way better at it than we are. Or at the very least turn up the heat so that Biden gets the memo and fires this guy already, FFS.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.