Chairs Maloney and Thompson Demand DHS Inspector General Comply with Committees’ Investigation into Handling of Erased Text Messages

Aug 16, 2022
Press Release
DHS IG Obstructed Investigation by Withholding Documents and Blocking Staff Interviews

Washington, D.C. (August 16, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari demanding that his office comply with their requests for documents and transcribed interviews in the Committees’ investigation into potential mismanagement and misconduct in the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) review of erased text messages related to the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. 

 

“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,” wrote the Chairs. 

 

On July 26, 2022, the Chairs wrote to IG Cuffari urging him to step away from the investigation into erased text messages and allow another Inspector General to take over after he failed to provide timely notification to Congress of the destruction of these communications.  On August 1, 2022, the Chairs wrote to IG Cuffari again, revealing new evidence that his office had abandoned efforts to collect these text messages for months, and had known about the problem far earlier than previously reported.

 

In response, IG Cuffari declined to step away from the investigation, refused to produce responsive documents, and blocked his top aides from testifying, writing, “we do not authorize our staff to sit for transcribed interviews with your committee about these ongoing matters.” 

 

Today’s letter from Chairwoman Maloney and Chairman Thompson explains that in addition to obstructing the Committee’s investigation, DHS OIG failed to follow statutory reporting obligations.  New reporting by the Project on Government Oversight reveals that—contrary to IG Cuffari’s claims that he was transparent with Congress—DHS OIG removed detailed information about Secret Service’s deleted text messages and “resistance to OIG’s oversight activities” from a June 2022 report to Congress. 

 

Today’s letter also addresses IG Cuffari’s obstruction of another joint investigation related to DHS OIG’s efforts to censor and delay reports related to domestic violence and sexual harassment by DHS employees.  IG Cuffari has also refused to produce documents in that matter without a valid justification, obstructing the Committees’ inquiry. 

 

The Chairs demanded that IG Cuffari comply with the Committees’ requests for documents and make DHS OIG personnel available for transcribed interviews by August 23, 2022. 

 

Click here to read today’s letter.

 

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117th Congress