Inspector General Joseph Cuffari met with the committee behind closed doors two days after sending a letter to lawmakers informing them that the text messages had been deleted after the oversight agency requested records related to his electronic communications in the part of its ongoing investigation into the Attack on the Capitol.
Members of the January 6 committee had expressed concern after the meeting about the different version of events between the Inspector General and the Secret Service and had stressed that they wanted to hear from the agency itself.
Cuffari told the committee that the Secret Service did not conduct its own after-action review regarding Jan. 6 and chose to rely on the inspector general’s investigation, according to a source familiar with the briefing. The inspector general told the committee that the Secret Service had not fully cooperated with his investigation.
Cuffari’s description left the impression that the Secret Service had “dragged its feet”, the source said. The Inspector General told the committee that they did not have full access to personnel and records.
Cuffari said he reported the matter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on several occasions and was told to keep trying to get the information. Ultimately, Cuffari decided to go to Congress because he couldn’t go anywhere in DHS with his concerns. Separately, a law enforcement official told CNN that Cuffari was going to Mayorkas.
DHS said in a statement that it “has ensured and will continue to ensure that the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol have the information they have requested”.
Thompson told CNN that the IG said during their meeting that the Secret Service had not been fully cooperative.
“Well, they haven’t fully cooperated,” the Mississippi Democrat said, adding, “We’ve had limited engagement with the Secret Service. We’re going to follow up with additional engagement now that we’ve met with the IG. “
Thompson said the committee will work “to try to determine if these texts can be resurrected.”
The congressman previously told CNN after the meeting that the committee needed to interview Secret Service officials to get their thoughts on what happened with the text messages that were deleted on January 5 and 6, 2021.
“Now that we have the IG’s perspective on what happened. Now we need to speak to the Secret Service. And we hope to contact them directly,” Thompson said. “One of the things we need to make sure is that what the Secret Service is saying and what the IG is saying, that those two issues are actually one and the same thing. And now that we have it , we will request the physical information.And we will make a decision ourselves.
Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, who sits on the Jan. 6 committee, told CNN there appear to be “conflicting statements” between the Homeland Security Inspector General and the Secret Service as to whether the Secret Service text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, are actually gone.
“First, the Department has informed us that numerous United States Secret Service text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021 have been erased as part of a device replacement program. The USSS has erased these text messages after the OIG requested records of electronic communications from the USSS, as part of our assessment of events at the Capitol on January 6,” Cuffari said in the letter.
“Second, DHS staff repeatedly told OIG inspectors that they were not authorized to provide records directly to the OIG and that those records must first be reviewed by DHS attorneys. “, added Cuffari. “This review caused delays of several weeks for the OIG to obtain records and created confusion as to whether all records had been produced.”
A DHS official provided CNN with a timeline of when the IG was notified by the Secret Service of the missing information caused by the data transfer. In a statement late Thursday, the Secret Service said the IG first requested information on Feb. 26, 2021, but it did not say when the agency acknowledged the issue.
According to the DHS official, the Secret Service notified the IG of the migration issue multiple times, beginning May 4, 2021, then again on December 14, 2021, and in February 2022.
In a statement late Thursday, the Secret Service said the Inspector General’s allegation of a lack of cooperation was “neither correct nor new.”
“To the contrary, DHS OIG has previously alleged that its employees failed to obtain proper and timely access to documents due to an attorney’s review. DHS has repeatedly and publicly denied this allegation, including in response to the OIG’s last two semi-annual reports to Congress. It is unclear why the OIG is raising this issue again,” the statement said.
After initially requesting records from more than 20 people in February, the IG then returned to request more records for additional people, according to the law enforcement official. There were no text messages for the new request as they were lost during the system transfer, the law enforcement official said. The official also said the agency was notified of the transition and sent guidance on how to retain IT department phone records.
CNN law enforcement analyst Jonathan Wackrow, who worked for the Secret Service for 14 years, said it would make sense for the inspector general to conduct the review after Jan. 6. From a Secret Service perspective, the President and Vice President were protected. , so the agency would not consider this incident to be considered in an after-action report, Wackrow said.
This story was updated with additional developments on Friday.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.
#CNN #DHS #Inspector #General #tells #Jan #panel #visited #Mayorkas #Secret #Service #cooperation