Top officials in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) inspector general’s office have disrupted efforts to retrieve deleted Secret Service texts from the time of the Attack on the US Capitol and tried to cover up their actions, two House committees said in a letter Monday.
Taken together, the new publications seem to indicate that the main watch for the Secret service and the DHS took deliberate steps to stop the recovery of texts it knew were missing, and then tried to hide the fact that it decided not to pursue that evidence.
The Inspector General’s office had initially attempted to retrieve the lost texts from across DHS – which includes both Secret service as well as former DHS secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli — as part of his January 6 internal review.
But six weeks after the inspector general’s office first requested Secret Service communications from the time of the Capitol attack, Thomas Kait, the deputy inspector general, put that effort on hold for audits and evaluations, said House committees.
“Use this email as a reference to our conversation where I stated that we no longer request phone records and text messages from the USSS related to the events of January 6,” Kait wrote in a July 2021 email to DHS senior liaison officer Jim Crumpacker, he was received by Congress.
The House committees also disclosed that they learned that Kait and other senior officials manipulated a memo, which was authorized on February 4, 2022, that initially criticized the DHS for refusing to cooperate with its investigation and emphasized the need to revise certain texts .
By the time Kait and other senior officials finished the memo, the House committee said, references to the Secret Service or DHS secretary deleting the texts had been removed and instead praised the agency for its response to the review. internal.
The memo went from a scathing criticism that “most DHS components did not provide the requested information” to “we received a timely and consolidated response from all components”, the House committees said.
Seemingly acknowledging the damaging findings in the memo, Kait asked colleagues around that time: “Am I getting rid of anything but adding what I did? I spoke with Kristen late last week and she was fine with recognizing DAL’s efforts.”
The alarming revelations of House oversight committee chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and House Homeland security committee chair Bennie Thompson – who also chairs the House committee on January 6 – prompted enough to demand that top DHS officials appear with for transcribed interviews.
I the four page letterboth House committees again called for the DHS inspector general, Joseph Cuffari, to be fired and communications within the inspector general’s office about not collecting or retrieving texts from the agency related to the Capitol attack.
The in-depth investigation also revealed that Cuffari’s office was notified in February 2022 that texts from Wolf and Cuccinelli could not be accessed and that Cuccinelli was using a personal phone — but Congress was not told.
Kait has a history of extracting adverse outcomes from reports. In a DHS report on domestic violence and sexual misconduct, Kait directed staff to remove a section that found that officers charged with sex offenses were charged with general offenses, the The New York Times reported.
The controversy over the missing texts came several weeks ago after Cuffari first told Congress in mid-July that his department could not turn over Secret Service texts from the time of the Capitol attack because they had been deleted as part of a device replacement program.
That prompted Thompson, through the House Select Committee on January 6, to issue a subpoena to the Secret Service for texts from the day before and the day of the Capitol attack while examining how the agency planned to move Donald Trump and Mike Pence on January 6.
But the Secret Service provided only text exchange for the Select Committee, the Guardian has previously reported, telling investigators that all other messages were wiped when personnel failed to back up data from the devices when they were exchanged.