The Department of Homeland Security scandal is growing larger, with its embattled inspector general increasingly appearing to be at the center of what one noted political scientist is calling a “coverup of treason.”
DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, appointed by then-President Donald Trump in 2019, was aware of Secret Service agents’ deleted text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, as well as deleted texts from top Homeland Security officials, months earlier than first disclosed, according to reports from CNN and The Washington Post.
“Earlier this month, Secret Service officials told congressional committees that DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, the department’s independent watchdog, was aware that texts had been erased in December 2021,” CNN reports. “But sources tell CNN, the Secret Service had notified Cuffari’s office of missing text messages in May 2021, seven months earlier.”
That means that four months after the January 6 insurrection the DHS watchdog office knew Secret Service agents’ text messages, from the day before and day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, were missing and did not inform Congress or the National Archives, which is required by law to retain those records.
The deleted Secret Service texts are not the only missing data at DHS.
“Text messages for President Donald Trump’s acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli are missing for a key period leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol,” The Washington Post was first to report, on Thursday night.
As with the missing Secret Service texts, Cuffari knew early on – as early as May – but did not inform Congress or the National Archives.
Earlier this month the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), a nonpartisan independent watchdog, reported on Cuffari, Wolf, and Cuccinelli.
“Cuffari’s actions shielded high-level DHS political appointees, including then-acting Secretary Chad Wolf and his acting deputy secretary, Ken Cuccinelli, from fuller questioning by investigators, according to government records and interviews,” a POGO press release stated.
Back in February POGO reported that Cuffari “faces a previously undisclosed and escalating investigation — one that will apparently address persistent questions about whether he illegally ‘retaliated’ against former high-ranking employees. As such, the probe signals the latest phase of a nasty internecine battle that refuses to fade away, despite Cuffari’s successful bid to force out his former top deputy, as other internal critics left amid bitter recriminations.”
That investigation, according to the POGO report, began in May of 2021, more than one year ago.
In. April POGO sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to remove Cuffari from his role as DHS IG.
Late Thursday night noted political scientist Norman Ornstein, who sits on the POGO board, called the situation a “coverup of treason.”
POGO, Ornstein tweeted, “has been calling for a long time for the resignation of DHS IG Joseph Cuffari. He sat on the information of missing texts from the top DHS ‘acting’ officials, put there by Trump to do his bidding. Stinks to high heaven. Coverup of treason.”
Appointed by Trump, Cuffari assumed office on July 25, 2019. Less than one year later, in May of 2020, The Washington Post reported, “DHS inspector general’s office nearly dormant under Trump as reports and audits plummet.”
Reprinted with permission from Alternet.