According to a report from the Washington Post, the Department of Homeland Security watchdog who was aware that text messages made by Secret Service agents around Jan. 6 in early February were deleted abruptly pulled the plug on a plan to have data experts begin work to retrieve them.
While it was previously known that the inspector general has known for months about the deleted texts, reportedly due to a device migration, the new reporting, based upon two government whistleblowers, claims the problem could have been caught earlier and possibly resolved.
According to the Post, "In early February, after learning that the Secret Service’s text messages had been erased as part of a migration to new devices, staff at Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari’s office planned to contact all DHS agencies offering to have data specialists help retrieve messages from their phones, according to two government whistleblowers who provided reports to Congress," adding, "But later that month, Cuffari’s office decided it would not collect or review any agency phones, according to three people briefed on the decision."
The report adds, "A senior forensics analyst in the inspector general’s office took steps to collect the Federal Protective Service phones, the people said. But late on the night of Friday, Feb. 18, one of several deputies who report to Cuffari’s management team wrote an email to investigators instructing them not to take the phones and not to seek any data from them, according to a copy of an internal record that was shared with The Post."
Late Friday, a Cuffari spokesperson declined to address the new allegations, telling the Post, "To preserve the integrity of our work and consistent with U.S. Attorney General guidelines, DHS OIG does not confirm the existence of or otherwise comment about ongoing reviews or criminal investigations, nor do we discuss our communications with Congress."
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