January 6th Committee Once Again Tries To Get The DHS Inspector General To Cooperate With Its Investigation
from the rogue-agency-within-a-rogue-agency dept
Joseph Cuffari, addressed as the “Honorable” in this letter [PDF] from the House Committee seeking information on the January 6, 2021 raid of the Capitol building in an attempt to overturn election results, has been anything but honorable since being appointed to his position by former president Donald Trump.
The DHS, which oversees the US Secret Service, opened, closed, re-opened, and buried information about a perhaps deliberately abortive attempt to migrate Secret Service members to new mobile devices. The Secret Service had a data migration plan in place. And by that, I mean the Secret Service was going to move agents to new devices. Data migration appeared to be a secondary concern.
Documents obtained by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) showed the migration went ahead as planned, but without the sort of migration one would expect. Agents were informed the migration was happening and told to create backups. But if one wished to hide their involvement in an insurrection, one might just decide not to back up that data.
Text messages sent and received around the time the Capitol was being raided somehow vanished. So did texts issued by DHS Secretary Chad Wolf (a Trump appointee) and Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli (another Trump appointee) — these apparently being a deliberate deletion unrelated to any planned data migrations that (somehow) failed to migrate crucial data.
Over the course of several months, the DHS Inspector General opened and closed investigations into the missing Secret Service texts. Despite being informed months earlier about the botched migration, DHS IG Cuffari chose to withhold this information from the House Committee investigation of the January 6 insurrection.
The House Committee — now facing calls for Cuffari to recuse himself from this investigation — is demanding more answers from a source that has already demonstrated he’s unwilling to do so. The letter demands Cuffari answer a whole lot of questions about his activities, which apparently include providing very selective oversight of DHS agencies.
Since May 2022, we have written to you on three separate occasions to request documents and information about your conduct as Inspector General: first, following serious allegations that your office censored findings of domestic abuse and sexual harassment by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees; second, after you failed to promptly notify Congress of crucial information on the Secret Service’s erasure of text messages related to the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol; and third, after new information emerged on your repeated failures to gather text messages from the Secret Service and other senior officials related to the January 6 attack.
In response to the Committees’ requests, you have refused to produce responsive documents and blocked employees in your office from appearing for transcribed interviews. Your obstruction of the Committees’ investigations is unacceptable, and your justifications for this noncompliance appear to reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of Congress’s authority and your duties as an Inspector General. If you continue to refuse to comply with our requests, we will have no choice but to consider alternate measures to ensure your compliance.
There’s plenty of palpable anger in this letter. It probably bordered on incandescent before it was vetted a half-dozen times by House lawyers. But what does the Committee mean by “alternate measures?” How can it hope to force Cuffari into compliance and honesty?
The real answer is it probably can’t. It can perhaps kick him to the curb and force him to seek more lucrative employment options as a lobbyist or corporate board member, but it can’t lock him up, force him to recuse himself from this investigation, or gun him down on Fifth Avenue with a firearm owned by Donald Trump.
But this is both farce and a tragedy. A Trump appointee charged with overseeing DHS agencies has deliberately refused to do so when investigations might prove inconvenient to his own employment or to his personal savior of choice, Donald Trump.
That leaves the electorate in a lurch. We expect mechanisms to be in place to destroy those who value their own positions and political beliefs over the good of the nation. Cuffari will likely end up bounced out of a job, but he’ll never truly, personally have to answer for ignoring the obligations of his job in favor of his personal preferences.