House Democrats investigating the January 6, 2021 riot at the United States Capitol released a scathing letter accusing the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General of covering up the extent of missing text messages related to the events of That day.
House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, who lead the House Jan. 6 and Homeland Security committees, accused the Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari for reporting missing texts to Congress about 14 months after learning that the message was unavailable.
Democratic lawmakers also said Monday they had documents showing the inspector general’s office “secretly abandoned” efforts to get the messages more than a year ago. They want Mr. Cuffari to withdraw from the investigation.
“These documents also indicate that your office may have taken steps to conceal the extent of the missing records, raising further concerns about your ability to perform your duties independently and effectively,” the lawmakers wrote.
House lawmakers want the text messages because they could provide critical details about former President Donald Trump’s actions before and during the Capitol riot, which occurred after Mr Trump aired his grievances about of the 2020 election results in a speech to supporters near the White House.
Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Secret Service agents told her that Mr Trump had run into officers in his vehicle on January 6 when she was told he it would be impossible to take him to the Capitol with the crowd.
Secret Service members indicated they were prepared to challenge that account, which led to a fight over the texts of that day and whether they had been deleted forever.
Ms Maloney and Mr Thompson said they reviewed emails suggesting the Inspector General’s office had abandoned efforts to obtain the text messages in mid-2021.
“The committees are unsure why your office chose not to seek critical information from the Secret Service at this stage of this investigation. Information obtained by the committees indicates that more than four months later, on December 3, 2021, your office finally submitted a new request to DHS for certain text messages,” they wrote.
Lawmakers demanded all communications related to efforts to recover the text messages and reiterated their call for Mr. Cuffari’s replacement.
“We recently asked you to step aside from this case and appoint a new IG in light of revelations that you failed to keep Congress informed of your failure to obtain key Secret Service information,” they said. writing. “Withdrawing from this investigation is even more urgent today.”
Politico received an email from Mr. Cuffari to his staff suggesting he is ready to push back against Congress.
“Due to United States Attorney General guidelines and quality standards, we cannot always publicly respond to untruths and misinformation about our work,” Cuffari wrote Monday. “I’m so proud of the resilience I’ve witnessed in the face of this onslaught of baseless criticism.”
He also thanked everyone for staying calm and working long hours to respond to requests from Congress and the media.