Friday, June 02, 2023

Wake Up, Democrats!

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark," Marcellus says in Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Nowadays, it appears that there is very little rotten in Denmark, an affluent constitutional republic (or parliamentary democracy) whose citizens are perennially among the happiest in the world.. However, there is something rotten in Washington, D.C. Credit must be given where, or to whom, credit is due:

Last August, Vox explained

In mid-July, Joseph Cuffari, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, under which the Secret Service operates, sent a letter to Congress informing them that text messages sent by agents on and before January 6 had been erased. A spokesperson for the Secret Service claimed that this was part of a long-planned “system migration,” but the erasures have now spurred a criminal investigation after investigators could find only a single relevant text message from two dozen agents subject to a congressional subpoena.

Good thing, too, because according to a letter from the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General to the House and Senate homeland security committees that "system migration," also described as a "device-replacement program," the messages were erased soon after oversight officials requested the Secret Service's electronic communications. Moreover

It has since been reported that the messages during this period were erased for the two top officials at the Department of Homeland Security at the time as well. Text messages for Chad Wolf, the acting homeland security secretary, and Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary, “are missing for a key period leading up to the January 6 attack,” according to the Washington Post.

Further concerns were raised after it was revealed that Cuffari had known about the erased messages for over a year but had not said anything.

This prompted Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who respectively chair the House Oversight Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee, to demand that Cuffari step aside while expressing concerns about his “lack of transparency and independence, which appear to be jeopardizing the integrity of a crucial investigation run by your office.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him “to get to the bottom of what happened to these text messages and hold accountable those who are responsible.

He's so cute and cuddly, that Dick Durbin, who acts as if he expects an investigation from Merrick Garland, who has dragged his feet on all things Trump for a couple of years now.

Adding to the (justified) intrigue

Though the Secret Service maintains that the text messages were lost as a result of a “device-replacement program,” the letter says the erasure took place shortly after oversight officials requested the agency’s electronic communications.

The text messages have become increasingly vital after the testimony of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who recounted an astonishing scene where former President Donald Trump attempted to wrest control of a Secret Service vehicle in order to join the crowd at the Capitol on January 6. Hutchinson relayed a story as it was told to her by Tony Ornato, a top White House aide on detail from the Secret Service, and Bobby Engel, the head of Trump’s security detail.

As Hutchinson related it in a June public hearing, Trump became enraged when agents tried to take him back to the White House and not to the Capitol. “I’m the f-ing president, take me up to the Capitol now,” Trump reportedly exclaimed before reaching for the steering wheel of the Secret Service vehicle. He then “lunged at [the] clavicle” of an agent trying to restrain him, Hutchinson said.

Surely, the Secret Service, a federal law enforcement agency, would cooperate with another branch of the federal government. Surely, not:

Immediately after her testimony, anonymous Secret Service agents told several outlets that Ornato and Engel are prepared to deny that this happened, but neither has testified about it under oath. In its most recent hearing, the committee said other anonymous sources had corroborated what Hutchinson said.

Ornato has retired after two stints with the Secret Service sandwiched around service as White House Deputy Chief of Staff for operations under Donald Trump. Cuffari is still Inspector General of Homeland Security, despite what appears to be widespread sexual misconduct on his watch..

And now- we are to believe- no Secret Service agent noticed there was a sandbag on the ground, close to the 80-year-old President on the direct path he might take. Yet no one, save our tweeter and perhaps a few other not-noteworthy individuals here and there, has chosen to question what appears to be an act of sheer incompetence.  This, from a veteran, liberal journalist is typical,

Perhaps such reactions are not surprising.  For a long time- but especially once the turbulence of black lives summer of 2020 subsided- Republicans have positioned themselves as the party of local law enforcement. Partly in response, Democrats have noted that the GOP is not anti-crime, that the party which defends the insurrection of 1/6/21 does not support federal law enforcement such as the Justice Department, the Capitol Police, the FBI, maybe the DEA and the ATF.  

And then there is the Secret Service, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, which on Thursday displayed tremendous carelessness- or worse. As Stephen Stills famously noted, "there's something happening here. But what it is, ain't exactly clear."  It's in the interest of the Republican Party to continue to ignore it. It's not in the interest of the Democratic Party.

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