The inspector general of the Homeland Security Department took a combative tone in a Monday letter to his staff.
This comes as he faces more criticism over his office’s investigation of texts sent around the Jan. 6 Capitol disturbance.
The General is Not Happy
DHS Inspector Gen. Joseph Cuffari used wording in a note that highlighted “a significant amount of public conjecture” about the office’s work in relation to Jan. 6.
This signals he’s ready to push back on rising concerns from lawmakers on the topic. In a letter sent on Monday that Politico received, Cuffari stated the following:
“Because of the U.S. Attorney General’s regulations and quality requirements, we cannot always publicly reply to untruths and misleading facts regarding our work.”
“I am incredibly proud of the fortitude I have seen in the face of this barrage of unjustified criticism.”
Are you sitting down?
Now an even more astounding "coincidence":@CNN has now reported that Pentagon "wiped phones of key officials in the Trump administration, so January 6 texts were deleted, according to court filings."
— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) August 2, 2022
Cuffari did not identify the criticisms he believed lacked foundation.
However, two hours after sending his letter, two House Intelligence Committee chairs issued a statement, claiming to have proof that Cuffari’s office “may have quietly abandoned efforts to gather texts and emails from the security detail more than a year ago.”
The memo from Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the Jan. 6 select panel, as well as the domestic security working group, and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, chair of the Oversight Committee, stated the following:
“These records raise distressing anxieties that your senior people intentionally opted not to pursue that proof and then appear to have included steps to cover up these screw-ups.”
Maloney and Thompson also reaffirmed their demands that Cuffari withdraws from his office’s investigation of the Secret Service’s response to the incident on January 6.
Is the Pressure Too Much to Handle?
According to Cuffari’s email, he has no such intentions.
Additionally, he hinted in a memo to staff members on Monday afternoon that they should “support one another” because of the tight scrutiny lawmakers are giving his office.
“Thank you to everyone who maintained their composure, persisted, and completed the job.”
“I particularly applaud our Front Office and External Affairs employees, who have maintained a fantastic pace, putting in long hours to plan talks, coordinate them, and address congressional and media requests.”
An inquiry for comments was not immediately answered by the Public Affairs Department of the Inspector General.
The Secret Service’s external watchdog unit came under fire earlier this summer after it was revealed that several Secret Service employees’ messages pertaining to January 6 had vanished.
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) August 1, 2022
According to reports in the Washington Post, the auditor general’s office discovered the messages’ losses previously this year, but failed to inform Congress accordingly.
Last month, the Jan. 6 committee’s report summoned the Secret Service as part of its growing effort to find the texts.