House Democrats call for new inspector general in Secret Service text probe: NPR

Speaker Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., speaks to members of the media after a House select committee investigated the Jan. 6 Capitol attack hearing last month.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Speaker Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., speaks to members of the media after a House select committee investigated the Jan. 6 Capitol attack hearing last month.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The heads of the January 6 Committee and the House Oversight Committee are calling in a new inspector general to lead the investigation into the deleted Secret Service text messages tied to the Capitol insurrection.

In a letter sent to the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General and Chief of the Council of Inspectors General (CIGIE) on Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson and Rep. Carolyn Maloney are concerned that DHS Inspector General Joseph Ciffari” failed to notify Congress of the Secret Service’s removal of text messages in a timely manner, despite the law requiring “immediate” reporting of issues or abuses that are “particularly serious or egregious.”

Thompson — who heads both the Homeland Security Committee and the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot — and Maloney, chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, are asking that Cuffari step down and that the CIGIE appoint a new Inspector General to investigate the deleted Secret Service text message.

“These omissions left Congress in the dark about key developments in this investigation and may have cost investigators valuable time capturing relevant evidence,” the letter said. “Due to the nature and importance of this investigation, there is no doubt that the Inspector General leading this investigation can conduct it thoroughly and with integrity, objectivity and independence. We are not convinced that the Inspector General Cuffari can achieve these standards.”

The controversy over the deleted texts has intensified recently as lawmakers and agencies seek answers about the content of the posts and why they were deleted.

On January 16, 2021, Maloney and Thompson, along with other committee chairs, drafted a letter to DHS and other agencies asking them to produce documents and materials related to the January 6 insurrection for the committees. The following month, the DHS Office of Inspector General demand Records of Secret Service electronic communications for its own investigation into the January 6 attack.

“Despite the legal requirement to retain these records, the Secret Service reportedly undertook a system migration process on January 27, 2021, which resulted in the deletion of text messages related to the January 6 uprising,” according to Tuesday’s letter. .

And NPR has independently confirmed that the Secret Service received the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s letter released last week that informed the agency of a criminal investigation into text messages deleted by the branch of agency oversight. The letter was first reported by CNN and NBC News.

“We have informed the January 6 Select Committee of the Inspector General’s request and will conduct a thorough legal review to ensure that we are fully cooperating with all oversight efforts and that they do not conflict with each other. with others,” a Secret Service spokesperson told NPR, adding that the agency is cooperating with a subpoena from the select committee and one National Archives and Records Administration Survey.

A spokesperson for the DHS OIG told NPR that, per Attorney General guidelines, it does not generally confirm the existence of ongoing investigations or comment on ongoing investigations.

Cuffari claimed the messages were deleted after a request from his office, while the Secret Service denied the claims, saying the deletions were part of a system migration.

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