Biden Doesn’t Rule Out Controversial DHS Inspector General Being Fired Over Missing Texts

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According to sources familiar with the Biden administration’s internal processes and discussions, President Joe Biden does not rule out the firing of the Department of Homeland Security watchdog, which reportedly overturns efforts to monitor Secret Service text messages sent by the January 6 House Select Committee had been asked to stop.

TUSEN has learned that the White House is reviewing recently reported information about the conduct of DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, including a 2013 report by a Justice Department inspector general that questions whether he misled Congress during his confirmation process in 2019.

Earlier this week, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Biden had no intention of removing Cuffari, despite reports that his team had ordered Secret Service officials to halt attempts to get messages back that were sent and received by members of Trump’s protective department. the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

But a source familiar with the White House’s internal deliberations says: TUSEN that Biden administration officials are now investigating “the facts and the situation surrounding” [Mr] Cufarri, following the recent revelations regarding the text messages and reports of his past behavior.”

The source would not contradict Ms Jean-Pierre’s statement that Mr Biden currently has no plans to fire Mr Cuffari – a process that would begin with a notification to Congress that he plans to remove him within 30 days – but stressed that the lack of plans does not mean he will not take action if the unique situation of Mr Cuffari’s alleged misconduct justifies it.

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Another source in regular contact with the White House said: TUSEN Mr. Biden is aware of the reports about Mr. Cuffari and said the president would not hesitate to remove him or any other official who does not adhere to the highest ethical standards.

Secret Service officials say the missing messages, which congressional investigators have been looking for for more than a year, were accidentally erased during a planned phone upgrade program. Mr. Cuffari notified the investigators of the selected committee of the removals after the Secret Service received a subpoena from the panel, but later reports showed that he had not informed the committee that he had ordered the efforts of professional personnel in his office that wanted specialists. work to recover the missing data.

Cuffari also failed to inform Congress that messages from cellphones used by former acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf and his former chief of staff, Ken Cuccinelli, had been similarly erased after the two former Trump administration officials left government service. .

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More recently, the House Oversight Committee released a 2013 report from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice in which DOJ investigators found that Mr. Cuffari had violated ethics regulations during his time as a special agent with the DOJ IG. office.

The DOJ investigators found that he violated conflict of interest rules when he advised a federal prison inmate to hire attorneys with whom he had a personal relationship, and that he violated a separate rule of ethics by testifying before the defense in a civil lawsuit. against the government without first obtaining the consent of its regulators.

During his confirmation of his current position in 2019, he responded to a Senate questionnaire about whether he had ever been the subject of an IG investigation by describing being interviewed about his conduct in relation to the civil suit in which he testified, but he didn’t. say he was the subject of the investigation.

In a statement, Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House Oversight Committee and Bennie Thompson, chair of the Jan. 6 select committee, said the report “raises even more questions” about whether Mr. Cuffari is investigating the missing texts with ” impartiality and integrity”.

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Jean-Pierre said Thursday that Mr. Biden “believes in TUSEN role of the inspector generals and that they play an important role in ensuring accountability to the American people.” The former president had promised not to fire any of the government’s independent watchdogs during his 2020 presidential campaign, citing his predecessor’s penchant for firing inspectors general when they began investigations that would have embarrassed his administration.

At the time, Mr. Biden said he would not remove any inspector generals because they work to “keep the government honest,” but ethics experts and senior members of Congress are now calling on him to renege on that promise, citing the fact that Mr. Cuffari does not fulfill his obligations. work related to the missing texts.

Asked how keeping Mr. Cuffari at work satisfies Mr. Biden’s desire for inspectors general to “keep the government honest,” Ms Jean-Pierre said. TUSEN: “We look at the facts and the situation under investigation”.

“We know what members of Congress have said, we understand the concerns … it’s being looked at right now and so we’re just not going to comment on personnel announcements at this point,” she added.

A spokesman for Mr Cuffari’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TUSEN.

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