The DHS Watchdog scrapped the draft report on the Secret Service texts deleted on January 6

The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general omitted information about the missing Secret Service text messages from Jan. 6 in his report to Congress earlier this summer, new documents shared by the Government Surveillance Project revealed Thursday.

Staff and attorneys at the watchdog agency had approved five paragraphs detailing how the Secret Service redacted documents and delayed the release of requested records. Those records included missing text messages from officers assigned to then-President Donald Trump, which Inspector General Joseph Cuffari said hampered the department’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

Those five draft paragraphs were omitted from Cuffari’s report to Congress in June. They were dropped after the draft report was sent to Office of Inspector General Chief of Staff Kristen Fredricks on April 1.

“On February 23, 2022 – more than 2 months after the OIG renewed its requests for text messages from certain Secret Service employees – the Secret Service claimed that they were unable to extract the content of the text messages due to an April 2021 mobile phone system migration, which erased all data,” the draft reads.

He continued, “The Secret Service has caused a significant delay by not clearly communicating this very relevant information at the start of their interactions with the OIG during this reporting period. Moreover, the secret services did not explain why they had not kept the texts before the migration.

The project also alleged that even where recordings were provided, they were often redacted.

“The Secret Service has not disclosed who approved or enforced the redactions or why these redactions were originally made, thus causing the OIG to waste valuable time investigating,” the project states.

Cuffari finally alerted lawmakers to the missing Secret Service texts in mid-July, several months after learning of their disappearance. The June congressional report included only a few sentences mentioning the Secret Service’s delay in providing records.

“During the previous reporting period, we included information about the significant Secret Service delay in providing OIG access to Secret Service records, impeding the progress of our January 6, 2021 review,” the report said. “We continue to discuss this matter with the Secret Service.”

Congressional lawmakers called on Cuffari to resign following a CNN report that his department was aware of the missing texts as of May 2021. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the Jan. 6 committee and the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.), chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee, said their panels had evidence that Cuffari’s office had stopped efforts to retrieve the texts. .

“These documents raise troubling new concerns that your office not only failed to notify Congress for more than a year that key evidence in this investigation was missing, but your senior officials deliberately chose not to pursue that evidence and then appear to have taken steps to cover up those failures,” Thompson and Maloney wrote.

Cuffari remained defiant amid criticism, telling colleagues he was “proud” of their “resilience”.

“Due to guidelines and quality standards of the United States Attorney General, we cannot always publicly respond to untruths and misinformation about our work,” Cuffari wrote in an email to staff Aug. 1. reviewed by Politico. “I’m so proud of the resilience I’ve witnessed in the face of this onslaught of baseless criticism.”


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