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Democrats call for new DHS watchdog

Democrats call for new DHS watchdog, Transatlantic Today

WASHINGTON (Transatlantic Today) – Key congressional Democrats who are investigating what transpired on January 6 continue to claim that the federal watchdog for Homeland Security gave up trying to get phone data and messages from that day. 

The chairs of the House Homeland Security and Oversight committees, Reps. Bennie Thompson and Carolyn Maloney, repeated their calls on Monday for the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to discontinue the watchdog’s probe. 

Last month, Cuffari testified before Congress that text conversations from January 5 and 6 had been deleted by the U.S. Secret Service and that delays of months had been brought on by record inspections by DHS lawyers. 

The inspector general may have given up on attempts to obtain the messages from the Secret Service more than a year ago, according to House Democrats, who claimed that the inspector general just recently reported the issues. They asked to speak with Cuffari’s staff and get access to office records. 

Marsha Espinosa, the DHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, responded to inquiries on Homeland Security’s data retention policy and the deleted documents by stating that the agency is collaborating with the Jan. 6 committee and is complying with the current investigations. 

In a subsequent response, a representative for the Secret Service confirmed that some phone records from January 2021 were lost due to a scheduled data transfer, stating that the transfer was already in progress when the IG office submitted the petition in February 2021. 

The committees also claimed that the inspector general failed to inform Congress about former DHS acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli’s use of his personal phone, perhaps for important government activity. Messages between the former DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Cuccinelli have also vanished, according to a study from the government transparency group Project on Government Oversight. According to a senior DHS official who spoke to ABC News, documents as described by federal data retention law are not usually expected to include texts, and each employee is responsible for ensuring that records are kept securely when executing official duties.

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