In one example of the draft report on sexual misconduct, Kristen Fredricks, chief of staff for the inspector general, objected to including the finding that the department’s law enforcement agencies had paid 21 employees nearly $1 million in settlements for complaints related to sexual harassment, although inspectors found “in most cases” no record of an investigation or disciplinary action in those cases.
“Flawed premise,” Ms. Fredricks wrote in comments on the draft report. “Why/how are you correlating settlements with investigations and disciplinary action?”
Mr. Cuffari also directed his staff to delete portions of another draft report on domestic violence by department law enforcement officers because it was “challenging DHS disciplinary decisions without complete data.”
The inspector general’s office did not respond to emailed requests for comment Tuesday.
Mr. Cuffari, a Trump appointee who has served as inspector general since July 2019, previously blocked investigations, against the recommendations of his staff. He blocked investigations into the Secret Service’s role in the violent dispersal of anti-police brutality protests outside the White House in 2020 and into the spread of COVID-19 within that agency. He also delayed an investigation into whether top national security officials demoted an employee who had criticized the Trump administration.
The inspectors general are internal and independent control organisms of the federal agencies, although they can be dismissed by the president. Asked in late April if President Biden would fire Cuffari for interfering with investigations, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said only that “changes can be made.”
A White House official later said that Biden would leave it to Mayorkas, the Homeland Security secretary, to decide how to handle the revelations. But only the president can fire an inspector general, and a departmental secretary does not normally interfere with the work of the watchdog office.
The letter from the House committees also said the inspector general’s office was “unable to provide a timeline” for when a final version of the sexual misconduct report would be released. The draft report obtained by The Times was dated December 2020. The final version of the other report, on domestic violence, was published in November 2020.