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Under fire, Homeland Security watchdog delays probe — with GOP help

Joseph V. Cuffari and his staff have refused to release certain documents and tried to block interviews. The inspector general’s office abandoned attempts to recover missing Secret Service texts from Jan. 6, 2021. President Biden has signaled his intention to stay out of the process as an independent watchdog investigates the inspector general. Some Republican senators have also raised stiff resistance to the investigation, questioning the need for a full probe into the Trump administration appointee. Former watchdogs say they have never seen a colleague under investigation seek partisan allies to defend them to the degree that Cuffar has. In his three years at Homeland Security, he has repeatedly faced allegations of partisan decision-making in his role as watchdog at the third-largest federal agency. Most recently, he

CIGIE’s investigation into Cuffari was launched early last year by its Integrity Committee, which sifts through thousands of complaints of alleged wrongdoing by inspectors general each year. Biden pledged during his campaign that he would respect watchdogs’ independence after former president Donald Trump ousted multiple inspectors general in less than two months. The White House has said Biden has no immediate plans to dismiss Cuffedari, a spokeswoman said last week. The watchdogs have faced questions about the scope of other investigations by the Integrity Committee and of standard oversight practices. GOP senators have accused leaders in the inspector general community of failing to cooperate with WilmerHale lawyers who sought their testimony, among other issues that are now under review by multiple congressional committees.

Glenn Fine calls for term limits for inspectors general. Fine says a president should have a free hand to fire an inspector general for poor performance, not just misconduct. Fine was fired by Trump as acting watchdog at the Department of Defense in 2020.