Biden doesn’t rule out firing embattled DHS inspector general amid Secret Service texting scandal

President Joe Biden has not ruled out firing the DHS watchdog that reportedly shut down on Jan. 6 the recovery of Secret Service text messages sought by a House select committee, according to sources familiar with internal Biden administration processes and discussions. Work.

independent The White House is understood to be reviewing recently reported information about the conduct of former President Donald Trump’s appointed inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, Joseph Kouffari, including a 2013 report by the inspector general of the Justice Department that questioned whether he was in the confirmation process. misled Congress. 2019.

Earlier this week, White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre told reporters that despite reports that Biden’s team had ordered Secret Service officials to stop trying to revive Trump’s Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

But a source familiar with internal White House deliberations told independent Biden administration officials are now ‘investigating the surrounding facts and circumstances [Mr] Kufari, following recent revelations about 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 Koufari – a process that would begin with informing Congress of his intention to remove him within 30 days – but stressed that The president’s lack of planning does not mean that Mr. Cuffari will not act if the unique circumstances presented by Mr. Cuffari’s alleged misconduct warrant it.

Another source who has been in regular contact with the White House told the independent Mr. Biden is aware of reports about Mr. Koufari and said the president would not hesitate to remove him or any other official who fails to uphold the highest ethical standards.

Missing information that congressional investigators have been looking for for more than a year was accidentally deleted during a planned phone upgrade, Secret Service officials said. After the Secret Service received a subpoena from the panel, Mr. Kouffari informed the select committee investigators that the content was removed, but a subsequent report showed that he failed to notify the committee that he had ordered a cessation of career staff in his office who wanted to hire an expert. Work hard to recover lost data.

Mr. Kufari also failed to notify Congress that cellphone information used by former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his former chief of staff Ken Cuccinelli was similarly deleted after two former Trump administration officials left the administration. .

More recently, the House Oversight Committee released a 2013 report by the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General in which DOJ investigators found Mr. Cuffari violated ethics while serving as a special agent for the DOJ’s IG office.

DOJ investigators found that he violated conflict-of-interest statutes when he advised federal prison inmates to hire attorneys with whom he had a personal relationship, and that he violated a separate code of ethics by testifying for defenses in the civil government without the consent of their supervisors .

During the confirmation of his current role in 2019, he answered a Senate questionnaire on whether he was ever the subject of an IG investigation, described his conduct in the civil lawsuit he testified about in an interview, but he did not say he was an investigator object.

Caroline Maloney, chair of the House Oversight Committee, and Benny Thompson, chair of the Jan. 6 select committee, said in a statement that the report “raises additional questions” about whether Mr. Koufari can “fairly and Integrity” to investigate the missing text.

Ms. Jean-Pierre said Thursday that Mr. Biden “believes in the independent role of inspector generals who play an important role in ensuring accountability to the American people.” The former president has pledged not to fire any of the administration’s independent watchdogs during his 2020 presidential campaign, citing his predecessor’s preference for firing the inspector general when they begin an investigation that could embarrass his administration.

At the time, Mr Biden said he would not remove any inspector generals because of their commitment to “keeping the government honest”, but ethics experts and senior members of Congress are now calling on him to renege on that promise, citing Mr Koufari’s failure to live up to his responsibility. Work on missing text.

A spokesman for Mr. Koufari’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. independent.

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