Chairs Maloney and Thompson Release New Evidence on DHS IG’s Handling of Inquiry into Erased Text Messages, Renew Call for IG to Step Aside
Washington, D.C. (August 1, 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 renewing their call for him to step aside from the investigation into erased text messages related to the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, in light of new evidence obtained by the Committees that DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) may have secretly informed DHS in July 2021 that it would not be pursuing Secret Service text messages. The Chairs’ letter presses for documents and transcribed interviews with DHS OIG personnel to determine the full scope of potential mismanagement and misconduct in the investigation.
“We are writing with grave new concerns over your lack of transparency and independence, which appear to be jeopardizing the integrity of a crucial investigation run by your office. According to recent reports, your office learned that the Secret Service was missing critical text messages as part of your investigation of the January 6 attack against the U.S. Capitol in May 2021—seven months earlier than previously revealed,” wrote the Chairs. “The Committees have obtained new evidence that your office may have secretly abandoned efforts to collect text messages from the Secret Service more than a year ago. These documents also indicate that your office may have taken steps to cover up the extent of missing records, raising further concerns about your ability to independently and effectively perform your duties as Inspector General (IG).”
New information obtained by the Committees show that DHS OIG failed to notify Congress for more than a year and subsequent efforts by DHS OIG senior staff to cover up these failures. For example:
- The Committees obtained a July 27, 2021, email from Thomas Kait, the Deputy Inspector General for Inspections and Evaluations, to Jim Crumpacker, a senior liaison official at DHS, stating: “Jim, please use this email as a reference to our conversation where I said we no longer request phone records and text messages from the USSS [United States Secret Service] relating to the events on January 6th.”
- Information obtained by the Committees also indicates it was not until four months later, on December 3, 2021, that DHS OIG finally submitted a new request to DHS for certain text messages.
- The Committees have also learned that Deputy IG Kait removed key language from a February 2022 memorandum to DHS, which had highlighted the importance of text messages to the OIG’s investigation and criticized the Department for not complying with the December 3, 2021, request.
- Additional information obtained by the Committees show that DHS OIG was notified in February 2022 that text messages from Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, the top two political officials at DHS on January 6, could not be accessed.
- The Committees have also learned that DHS OIG became aware in January 2022 that Mr. Cuccinelli was using his personal phone and failed to collect messages from this device.
In today’s letter, the Chairs are requesting documents and internal communications to determine the full scope of potential mismanagement and misconduct at DHS OIG by August 8, 2022.
The Chairs are also requesting Deputy Inspector General Kait and Deputy Inspector General and Chief of Staff Kristen Fredricks sit for transcribed interviews by August 15, 2022.
Click here to read today’s letter.