The Department of Homeland Security watchdog delayed the process of recovering deleted Secret Service text messages and notified Congress, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
Secret Service and DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari clashed earlier this month after Cuffari wrote a letter to lawmakers saying the Secret Service deleted text messages from the day and before the riot in the Capitol in 2021. The Secret Service said the deleted text messages were due to a pre-planned system migration.
The Post, citing unnamed sources, said Cuffari’s office originally planned for DHS agencies, which include the Secret Service, to turn over their phones in early February, with the goal of recovering lost data. But in late February, the office decided not to continue collecting the phones, sources told the outlet.
On July 13, Cuffari’s office sent a letter regarding the deleted posts to the House committee investigating January 6. Cuffari’s letter, however, did not mention that the bureau was aware of the deleted posts as early as December, according to The Post. Anonymous sources told CNN that Cuffari even knew about it as early as May 2021.
Cuffari also did not mention in the letter that two senior DHS officials were missing additional text messages, The Post also reported.
On July 16, the House committee issued a subpoena for the Secret Service text messages. The Secret Service has so far provided only one text message to the committee.
The House committee said deleting text messages could be an illegal violation of the federal Records Act of 1950.
“The procedure for preserving content prior to this purge appears to have violated federal records retention requirements and may represent a possible violation of federal records law,” said Representatives Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney, President and vice-chair of the committee. A declaration.
Thompson, who is also chairman of House Homeland Security, and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, president of House Oversight, asked Cuffari to step aside from the investigation. They said his belated disclosure to Congress of inaccessible Secret Service records casts “serious doubts on his independence and ability to effectively conduct such an important investigation.”
DHS and Cuffari’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.