The inspector general of the Homeland Security Department refused to give congressional requests for documents and testimony about the attack on the Capitol, angering top Democrats.
Inspector General Joseph Cuffari told the leaders of the House Oversight and Homeland Security committees that his office wouldn't comply with their requests for internal documents and sit-down interviews because of the criminal investigation into deleted Secret Service text messages.
In response, House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney and Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson sent a letter Tuesday demanding that Cuffari turn over documents and make his staff available to them.
The Inspector General's obstruction of the Committees' investigations is unacceptable and his justifications for noncompliance seem to reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of Congress's authority.
We will have no choice but to consider alternate measures if you refuse to comply with our requests.
Congress and federal investigators requested that the text messages be preserved, but they were deleted.
The inspector general's office first learned of the missing Secret Service text messages as part of its investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Emails show that the agency that oversees the Secret Service decided not to try to recover the text messages in July of 2021.
Lawmakers want answers to why watchdog officials chose not to pursue critical information from the Secret Service at this point in the investigation, and only renewed their request to the Department of Homeland Security for certain text messages more than four months later.
The possibility of lost evidence has arisen because of the deletion of the messages, particularly after testimony about Donald Trump's confrontation with security as he tried to join supporters at the Capitol. The Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security are being investigated.
Thompson is the chairman of the House committee that is investigating the January attack.
The procedures were followed by the secret service. Agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said last month that there was no truth to the rumor that the Secret Service deleted text messages.
The failure to comply with our outstanding requests is unacceptable.
He was given until August 23 to provide all responsive documents and make personnel available for interviews.