Trump-Appointed IG Refused To Investigate Secret Service Actions Under Trump
The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, a Donald Trump appointee, refused to investigate potential wrongdoing by the Secret Service in two matters apparently out of concern the probes would reflect badly on Trump. Both matters involved decisions by then-President Donald Trump that may have affected actions by the agency.
Joseph Cuffari, who previously served two Arizona Republican governors – Jan Brewer and Doug Ducey – was nominated in 2019 to become the chief federal watchdog of DHS, including the Secret Service. Cuffari rejected his career staff’s recommendation to investigate the role that the Secret Service played in the forcible clearing of protestors from Lafayette Square on June 1. Secret Service, the military and several police departments used tear gas, rubber bullets and even low-flying helicopters to disperse the peaceful social justice demonstrators so that Trump could walk through the park for his upside down Bible photo op in front of St. John’s Church.
Cuffari also blocked an investigation into the Secret Service, at Trump’s urging, flouted federal protocols that had been instituted to detect and reduce the spread of the coronavirus within the agency. Last year hundreds of Secret Service officers either contracted COVID-19 or were forced to quarantine after potential exposure as they worked to protect the president as he continued to travel and stage campaign rallies during the pandemic.
DHS investigators had said that both investigations were essential to their office’s duty to hold the department and the Secret Service accountable.
Cuffari’s decisions not to pursue the probes were revealed in records obtained by the Project On Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group, and shared with The Washington Post.
The revelation that he declined to approve the two proposed investigations adds fuel to the criticism that Cuffari provided weak oversight of the second-largest federal agency. The chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), is concerned about what he considers to be Cuffari’s failure to conduct thorough investigations and has scheduled an oversight hearing Wednesday to look into the issue.