President Joe Biden has not ruled out firing the Department of Homeland Security’s watchdog that reportedly halted efforts to recover Secret Service text messages requested by the House Select Committee on Jan. 6, according to sources familiar with the Biden administration’s internal operations and discussions.
independent It is learned that the White House is reviewing recently reported information about the conduct of the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Kovari, appointed by former President Donald Trump, including a 2013 Justice Department Inspector General report that calls into question whether he misled Congress during Confirmation process in 2019.
Earlier this week, White House press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre told reporters that Biden had no plans to fire Kovari despite reports that his team had ordered Secret Service officials to halt attempts to recover messages sent and received by members of Mr. Trump during this period. January 6 attack on the Capitol.
But a source familiar with the White House’s internal deliberations says independent That Biden administration officials are “now looking into the facts and the surrounding situation.” [Mr] Cufarri, following recent revelations regarding text messages and reports about his past behaviour.”
The source would not dispute Jean-Pierre’s statement that Biden currently has no plans to impeach Kovari – a process that will begin by notifying Congress that he intends to impeach him within 30 days – but stressed that the president’s lack of plans does not mean he will not take action if there is. The unique situation represented by Kovari’s alleged misconduct is justified.
Another source who has been in frequent contact with the White House said independent Mr Biden is aware of the reports regarding Mr. Kovari, and has said the president will not hesitate to fire him or any other official who fails to uphold the highest ethical standards.
Secret Service officials say the missing messages, which congressional investigators have been searching for more than a year, were accidentally erased during a planned phone upgrade program. Mr. Al-Kaffari notified the commission’s select investigators of the deletion after the Secret Service received a subpoena from the commission, but subsequent reports revealed that he had not informed the commission that he had ordered a halt to the efforts of professional staff in his office who wanted specialists. Work to recover lost data.
Kovari also failed to notify Congress that messages from cell phones used by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and his former chief of staff, Ken Cuccinelli, were similarly erased after the two former Trump administration officials left government service.
Most recently, the House Oversight Committee released a report in 2013 from the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General in which Department of Justice investigators found that Mr. Kovari had violated ethics regulations during his tenure as a special agent in IG’s office.
Department of Justice investigators found that he violated conflict of interest regulations when he recommended that a federal prisoner appoint attorneys with whom he had a personal relationship, and that he violated a separate ethics regulation by testifying to the defense in a civil lawsuit against the government without first obtaining the consent of his superiors.
During his 2019 confirmation of his current role, he responded to a Senate questionnaire on whether he had been subject to an IG investigation by describing being interviewed about his conduct in connection with the civil lawsuit in which he testified, but did not say he was the subject of the investigation.
In a statement, House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney and January 6 select committee chair Penny Thompson said the report “raises further questions” about whether Mr. Kovari can conduct the investigation into the missing texts “with impartiality and integrity.”
Ms. Jean-Pierre said Thursday that Mr. Biden “believes in the independent role of the inspectors general and that they perform an important function in ensuring that the American people are held accountable.” The former president had vowed not to fire any of the government’s independent monitors during his 2020 presidential campaign, citing his predecessor’s fondness for firing inspectors general when they began investigations that may have embarrassed his administration.
At the time, Mr. Biden said he would not fire an inspector general because they were working to “maintain the honesty of the government,” but ethics experts and senior members of Congress are now calling on him to renege on that promise, citing Mr. Kovari’s failure to do his job. Work on missing texts.
A spokesperson for Kaffari’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment independent.