Cuffari sent a letter to the two committees last month disclosing that Secret Service text messages sent and received around Jan. 6, 2021, were deleted despite requests from Congress and federal investigators that they be preserved.
The deletion of the messages has raised the prospect of lost evidence that could shed further light on then-President Donald Trump’s actions during the insurrection, particularly after testimony about his confrontation with security as he tried to join supporters at the Capitol. Since that July 19 letter, a series of revelations about the Secret Service and DHS's mishandling of those communications have come to light, prompting a congressional probe into the matter.
The letter Monday noted one email, dated July 27, 2021, where Thomas Kait, the deputy IG, wrote to Jim Crumpacker, a senior liaison official at DHS: “Jim, please use this email as a reference to our conversation where I said we no longer request phone records and text messages from the USSS (United States Secret Service) relating to the events on January 6th.”
Lawmakers said they want to know why the watchdog officials chose “not to pursue critical information from the Secret Service at this point in this investigation,” and only decided to renew their request to DHS for certain text messages more than four months later, in December 2021.
Lawmakers also revealed Monday that Ken Cuccinelli, who was DHS acting deputy secretary on Jan. 6, was using a personal phone at the time, but the inspector general did not report that fact to Congress. Cuccinelli's texts, along with those of then-acting Secretary Chad Wolf, have also been reportedly erased.
The lawmakers demanded that the IG's office turn over by Aug. 8 all documents and communications related to the decision not to collect or recover any text messages and related to the deletion, erasure, unavailability, or recovery of text messages from the Secret Service, Wolf, and Cuccinelli.
The committees also asked for the agency to make Kait and fellow deputy inspector general Kristen Fredricks available for transcribed interviews no later than Aug. 15.