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Top Democrats call for agency watchdog to step aside in Jan. 6 Secret Service probe

Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari has been leading the investigation into missing Secret Service text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021.
Image: Representative Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi during a hearing in Washington, D.C. on July 12, 2022.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the House Jan. 6 committee, at a hearing in Washington on July 12. Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON — Two senior House Democrats called on Tuesday for Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to recuse himself from the investigation into Secret Service text messages related to the probe into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

House Oversight Committee Chairperson Carolyn Maloney and House Homeland Security Chairperson Bennie Thompson, who also leads the panel probing the Capitol attack, said in a letter they lost confidence in the watchdog after he failed to inform Congress for months that Secret Service messages around Jan. 6, 2021, might have been erased.

“These omissions left Congress in the dark about key developments in this investigation and may have cost investigators precious time to capture relevant evidence,” Maloney and Thompson wrote.

The House Jan. 6 Select Committee subpoenaed the Secret Service earlier this month, seeking text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, after the Secret Service said data from some phones had been lost during a system migration that was initiated prior to the inspector general’s request.

A spokesperson for the Secret Service had no new comment on the letter, but pointed to previous statements from the agency confirming its continued cooperation with all oversight and investigations related to Jan. 6.