More missing texts, this time from Trump DHS officials, raise new Jan. 6 questions
Missing text messages for top Trump administration Homeland Security officials in the days surrounding Jan. 6, 2021, are raising new questions about why the agency’s watchdog did not alert officials to the potential destruction of records.
According to a document obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, text messages for former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf as well as his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, could not be located.
The late February message to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Joseph Cuffari indicates that record retention issues at the agency extend beyond the Secret Service and that DHS’s own watchdog failed in multiple instances to notify lawmakers about the missing messages.
The news was first reported by The Washington Post, which described the text messages as being lost in a reset of the officials’ government phones when they left office after President Biden’s inauguration.
The correspondence from DHS’s management division alerted Cuffari that the messages could not be extracted and were no longer accessible.
The revelation of additional messages that the department is no longer able to account for comes after Cuffari was asked by lawmakers earlier this week to step aside from investigating what he said earlier this month were “erased” text messages of Secret Service agents.
That call was renewed Friday by Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) who likewise said he would ask Attorney General Merrick Garland to intervene.
“The destruction of evidence that could be relevant to the investigation of the deadly attack on our Capitol is an extremely serious matter. Inspector General Cuffari’s failure to take immediate action upon learning that these text messages had been deleted makes clear that he should no longer be entrusted with this investigation,” Durbin said in a statement.
The latest development also indicated that Homeland Security Under Secretary for Management Randolph Alles, who had previously led the Secret Service, also had his phone reset, with his messages unaccounted for.
“I just don’t know why everybody’s texts and emails are suddenly disappearing all over the place. So I assume it’s not just a technological problem. But we’ll get to the bottom of it,” Rep Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said.
“We would expect that they would be there and we expect to get all of the records and we will work for both legal and technological answers where evidence mysteriously disappeared,” Raskin added.
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