July 30, 2022

Trump appointee Joseph Cuffari knew texts from key people were missing, he hid that information from Congress and now we know he blocked efforts to recover them.

The Washington Post broke the latest news of Cuffari’s obstruction and stonewalling last night:

In early February, after learning that the Secret Service’s text messages had been erased as part of a migration to new devices, staff at Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari’s office planned to contact all DHS agencies offering to have data specialists help retrieve messages from their phones, according to two government whistleblowers who provided reports to Congress

But later that month, Cuffari’s office decided it would not collect or review any agency phones, according to three people briefed on the decision.

Cuffari wrote a letter to the House and Senate Homeland Security committees this month saying the Secret Service’s text messages from the time of the attack had been “erased.” But he did not immediately disclose that his office first discovered that deletion in December and failed to alert lawmakers or examine the phones. Nor did he alert Congress that other text messages were missing, including those of the two top Trump appointees running the Department of Homeland Security during the final days of the administration.

Cuffari even went so far as to stop a forensic analysis of phone from the Federal Protective Service, which guards federal buildings. More from the Post:

A senior forensics analyst in the inspector general’s office took steps to collect the Federal Protective Service phones, the people said. But late on the night of Friday, Feb. 18, one of several deputies who report to Cuffari’s management team wrote an email to investigators instructing them not to take the phones and not to seek any data from them, according to a copy of an internal record that was shared with The Post.

Staff investigators also drafted a letter in late January and early February to all DHS agencies offering to help recover any text messages or other data that might have been lost. But Cuffari’s management team later changed that draft to say that if agencies could not retrieve phone messages for the Jan. 6 period, they “should provide a detailed list of unavailable data and the reason the information is unavailable,” the three people said.

On top of all that, Cuffari learned in late February that text messages leading up to Jan. 6 from two top Trump loyalists, acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli, were missing but did not tell Congress, according to the Post. Wolf says he turned in his phone “fully loaded.” Cuccinelli gave a more suspicious non-denial:

Carol Leonnig, one of The Washington Post reporters on this latest bombshell, rhetorically asked on MSNBC last night, what kind of investigator doesn’t take evidence that is offered to him?

In case you have any doubt that Cuffari is more on Team Trump than Team U.S.A., Leonnig pointed out that she has reported on other Cuffari corruption: She said he had blocked his staff’s recommendation to investigate two other times the Secret Service seems to have enabled Donald Trump’s “political shenanigans.” One was his creation of super spreader events at 2020 campaign rallies and the other was its role in forcibly clearing peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters from a park near the White House.

Unfortunately, we may never learn what was in those missing text messages. Leonnig said that because the Secret Service had a policy of not allowing text messages to be backed up to the cloud, “multiple experts” have told The Post that will make it “very, very difficult to recover this information.” Cuffari’s delays further hinder the effort.

Last night, Olivia Troye, former homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, said pointedly, that she knew Cuccinelli, Wolf and the senior people at DHS very well and “There’s a reason that I went very public with my concerns about the Trump administration rather than going through the traditional whistleblower process which would have led me to the inspector general’s office at DHS and I’ll just say that.”

The fact that Cuffari has not had the decency to resign is even more damning. The man is an obvious threat to our national security. He should be removed from his job. Yesterday.

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