Posts tagged with "House Homeland Security Committee"

January 6 texts missing for Trump Homeland Security’s Wolf and Cuccinelli

August 1, 2022

Text messages for former President Donald Trump’s acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli are missing for a key period leading up to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to four people briefed on the matter and internal emails, reports The Washington Post.

This discovery of missing records for the senior-most homeland security officials, which has not been previously reported, increases the volume of potential evidence that has vanished regarding the time around the Capitol attack.

The Department of Homeland Security notified the agency’s inspector general in late February that Wolf’’s and Cuccinelli’s texts were lost in a “reset” of their government phones when they left their jobs in January 2021 in preparation for the new Biden Administration, according to an internal record obtained by the Project on Government Oversight and shared with The Washington Post.

The office of the department’s undersecretary of management also told the government watchdog that the text messages for its boss, Undersecretary Randolph “Tex” Alles, the former Secret Service director, were also no longer available due to a previously planned phone reset.

The office of Inspector General Joseph Cuffari did not press the department leadership at that time to explain why they did not preserve these records, nor seek ways to recover the lost data, according to the four people briefed on the watchdog’s actions.

Cuffari also failed—for months—to alert Congress to the potential destruction of government records.

The revelation comes on the heels of the discovery that text messages of Secret Service agents—critical firsthand witnesses to the events leading up to January 6—were deleted more than a year ago and may never be recovered.v

The news of their  missing records set off a firestorm  because the texts could have corroborated the account of a former White House aide describing the president’s state of mind on January 6. In one case, the aide, Cassidy Hutchinson said a top official told her that Trump had tried to attack a senior Secret Service agent who refused to take the president to the Capitol with his supporters marching there.

In a early identical scenario to that of the DHS leaders’ texts, the Secret Service alerted Cuffari’s office seven months ago, in December 2021, that the agency had deleted thousands of agents’ and employees’ text messages in an agency-wide reset of government phones. Cuffari’s office  did not notify Congress  until mid-July, despite multiple congressional committees’ pending requests for these records.

The telephone and text communications of Wolf and Cuccinelli in the days leading up to January 6 could have shed considerable light on Trump’s actions and plans. In the weeks before the attack on the Capitol, Trump had been pressuring both men to help him claim the 2020 election results were rigged—and even to seize voting machines in key swing states to try to “re-run” the election.

“It is extremely troubling that the issue of deleted text messages related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol is not limited to the Secret Service, but also includes Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, who were running DHS at the time,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson said in a statement.

“It appears the DHS Inspector General has known about these deleted texts for months but failed to notify Congress,” Thompson said. “If the Inspector General had informed Congress, we may have been able to get better records from Senior administration officials regarding one of the most tragic days in our democracy’s history.”

Neither Cuccinelli nor Wolf responded to requests for comment. DHS’s Office of Inspector General did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The discovery of missing records for the top officials running the Department of Homeland Security during the final days of the Trump Administration raises new questions about what could have been learned, and also about what other text messages and evidence the department and other agencies may have erased, in apparent violation of the Federal Records Act.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

After security breach at rally, Biden may request Secret Service protection

March 6, 2020

Jill Biden is not just her husband’s greatest champion; she’s also his strongest defender, as she proved when environmental activists rushed the stage at a rally in Los Angeles on March 3 and she quickly stepped forward to shield the candidate.

While the dangerous situation was dealt with quickly and effectively, former Vice President Joe Biden was alarmed that protesters had slipped through his private security cordon and that his wife had been caught in the middle.

On Wednesday, his campaign  began privately deliberating whether to formally request Secret Service protection for the candidate, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, The Washington Post reported..

Both Biden and fellow candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) have been relying on private security firms to handle their public appearances, which is unusual this late in a presidential campaign cycle—in comparison with 2016, 2012, and 2008—the Post noted.

But their emergence over the past week as the clear front-runners in the Democratic primaries has prompted calls for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the U.S. Secret Service, to authorize full-time protection for both of them.

“Taking into consideration the remaining candidates’ large campaign operations, high polling averages, as well as physical threats to their safety … I urge you to immediately initiate the consultation process to determine whether to provide USSS protection” to Biden and Sanders,” Representative Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, wrote in a letter Wednesday to Acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf.

Representative Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana), a member of the Homeland Security Committee and co-chair of Biden’s campaign, told reporters that Democratic lawmakers were “worried about” security for the Democrats on the campaign trail even before the incident at Biden’s speech on Super Tuesday.

The Biden campaign has begun deliberating over whether to move forward with a formal request to the Secret Service, according to the person familiar with the situation, who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity to comment freely about a sensitive security matter. The Sanders campaign did not immediately respond to questions on the subject. The DHS also did not respond to a request for comment.

Both Biden, during his eight years as vice president, and Sanders, during his 2016 contest against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, have received Secret Service protection in the past.

Research contact: @washingtonpost