Top Democrats, Allege Cover-up On Secret Service Texts, Demand Records

Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives urged two Homeland Security oversight officials to come before Congress regarding the agency’s handling of missing Secret Service text messages sent the day of the Capitol attack, accusing their office of engaging in a cover-up. Members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees issued a letter to the agency’s inspector general expressing “grave new concerns regarding your lack of transparency and independence, which appear to be endangering the integrity of a key investigation handled by your office.”

Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, the chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, and Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, addressed a letter to Mr. Cuffari this week renewing their call for him to step down from the probe. Two of his top aides were also slated to testify this month. A request for comment from the inspector general’s office went unanswered. It was the latest twist in the saga of what happened to Secret Service text texts sent and received during the Capitol riot.

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According to Mr. Cuffari, messages were wiped as a device replacement program. The department had discontinued investigating what happened to them since they were being investigated as part of a criminal investigation. According to him, former President Donald J. Trump’s security detail was among those whose texts went missing.

Maloney and Thompson stated in a letter on Monday saying their committees had “new evidence” that Cuffari had “secretly abandoned efforts to gather text messages from the Secret Service more than a year ago” and that they had obtained “new evidence” of this. His office “may have taken attempts to cover up the magnitude of missing records, generating further questions about your capacity to independently and effectively conduct your obligations as inspector general,” they said. “

According to a CNN story cited in the legislators’ letter, the inspector general discovered that the Secret Service was missing vital text exchanges in May 2021, seven months earlier than had previously been acknowledged. In February, Congressional committees were informed that Cuffari’s office was informed that text communications between two top Homeland Security political officials, Chad Wolf and Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, could not be accessed on Jan. 6, 2021. Aside from knowing Mr. Cuccinelli used his phone, the inspector general also neglected to gather texts from that device.

Top Democrats, Allege Cover-up On Secret Service Texts, Demand Records
Top Democrats, Allege Cover-up On Secret Service Texts, Demand Records

According to a tweet from Mr. Wolf, he “complied with all data retention requirements and returned all my equipment fully loaded to the Department. The end of it. There are a lot of things that DHS has access to about me. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should be contacted if there are any issues with missing data.” Now, lawmakers want to know how Mr. Cuffari didn’t tell Congress sooner or do something earlier to get back the missing texts.

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Delegate Inspector General Thomas Kait sent an email on July 27, 2021, claiming that “we no longer require phone records and texts from the USSS relevant to the incidents on January 6th.” The committees have now retrieved this email. “US Secret Service” is an abbreviation he used. Four months later, it wasn’t until Dec. 3, 2021, that the inspector general issued a second request to the department for particular text messages, according to the MPs’ committees.

Text messages are crucial, and the department has failed to comply with an order issued on Dec. 3, 2021, according to a February 2022 memo written by Mr. Kait. Ms. Maloney and Mr. Thompson requested that Mr. Kait and the office’s chief of staff, Kristen Fredricks, sit for transcribed interviews by Aug. 15. As part of an investigation into the events of Jan. 6, Mr. Cuffari triggered a stir on Capitol Hill by reporting that the text conversations had been deleted, even after he had requested them.

On January 1, 2021, during a preplanned three-month system migration, the Secret Service said it “lost” data on a “small number” of phones during the process but insisted that no texts relevant to this investigation were affected. No “maliciously deleted” the agency deleted text messages before it received a warning from the inspector general to retain its data, the agency claimed. On January 6, 2021, the Secret Service was served with a subpoena by the Jan. 6 committee demanding the production of allegedly deleted text conversations and any after-action reports.

According to the Secret Service, many text messages deleted from the agents’ phones during last year’s attack on the Capitol may not be recoverable. “Thousands of pages of documentation” relevant to Jan. 6 rulings have been supplied, however. On January 6, Maryland Democrat Jamie Raskin spoke before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She stated she believed the inspector general had delayed reporting the appalling situation for an extended period. An inspector general will be needed, he said. This appears to be shameful neglect on his part.