This puts into jeopardy the historical record of Congress, according to Rep. Gaetz
It is the responsibility, Gaetz attests, under House rules, for a committee chairperson "to ensure proper recordkeeping by a committee." This, as evidenced by Thompson's own communications, Gaetz notes, was not done by Thompson in service to his role as Chair of the Select Committee on January 6.
That responsibility, Gaetz states, "Representative Thompson intentionally violated or recklessly neglected."
As such, Gaetz asserts that it be "Resolved, that– (1) Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi be censured; (2) Representative Bennie Thompson forthwith present himself in the well of the House of Representatives for the pronouncement of censure; (3) Representative Bennie Thompson be censured with the public reading of this resolution by the Speaker; and (4) Representative Bennie Thompson be, and is hereby, removed from the Committee on Homeland Security."
Thompson, Gaetz states, was meant, as committee chair and as required "under rule VII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, to turn over all committee records to the Clerk of the House at the close of Congress, in order to further transparency and to preserve the historical record of Congress."
This Thompson did not do, and his letter to DHS makes plain that fact. He instead sent the records to DHS and asked DHS to turn them over to Archives with instructions as respected the redactions made to those documents in an effort to protect the identity of the Secret Service agents who provided testimony to the Jan 6 Select Committee.
According to the US House, "House Rule VII governs official House records, requiring committees and officers to transfer to the Clerk, 1) any noncurrent records of committees and subcommittees, and 2) those created or acquired by House Officers and their staffs in the course of their official duties."
Gaetz recognized that Thompson did have the "expectation" that the documents he sent to DHS would be sent on to Archives, despite that being in violation of H. Res. 5 in the first place, Congress, at this point, "still is unsure of the scope of the records kept or improperly destroyed by the January 6th Committee."
The letter Gaetz references from Congressman Barry Loudermilk expresses concerns that the House Administration Committee is not in possession of "all documents and records related to January 6" that could assist the committee in their efforts to determine "past and present security vulnerabilities that exist or may have existed at the US Capitol Complex."
Loudermilk's concern came after a response from the National Archives (NARA) to a request from Administration for "all non-current records of the Select Committee" on January 6, which were meant to have been provided to the National Archives. Once those materials were produced and delivered to Administration, it appeared to Loudermilk to be an incomplete set.
The Jan 6 Select Committee, convened by then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and chaired by Bennie Thompson, "sent documents to Special Counsel to the President, Richard Sauber, asking that he prodice instructions to NARA to protect the confidentiality of certain witnesses. A redacted version of the letter from the Select Committee to Mr. Sauber was published by the Select Committee through the Government Publishing Office."
That letter from Thompson to DHS stated that the Jan 6 Committee had "concluded its hearings, released its Report and will very soon be dissolved." Thompson said that transcripts of interviews with Secret Service agents were "for-official-use only information, intelligence and law enforcement sensitive records, and raw intelligence informaiton," as per the attorneys for those agents. Those attorneys insisted that the information gathere was "not intended for public release," Thompson wrote.
As such, the interviews were "summarized," Thompson said, in the Jan 6 committee's final report "without revealing any Secret Service operational details or private information regarding any agent." However, Thompson continued, the Jan 6 committee had "also redacted other witness transcripts that would haev disclosed that information. In addition to operational details, certain private attorneys for Secret Service witnesses requested that particular private details in interview transcripts be withheld from public disclosure. Although this information has some relevance to the public, we have honored that request as well – including when those same private details appear in other non-Secret Service transcripts."
The redactions made, Thompson said, were to protect Secret Service agents at the request of the Secret Service. It was the dissolving of the committee that concerned Thompson and led those on the committee, Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY), who lost her seat in the 2022 midterm elections, Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who resigned from his seat, along with seven Democrats, Zoe Lofgren, Adam Schiff, Pete Aguilar, all California, Stephanie Murphy (FL), Jamie Raskin (MD), and Elain Luria (VA), to turn over the documents to DHS.
Thompson stated that "we are hereby providing those transcripts to the Department now for appropriate review, timely return, and designation of instructions for proper handling by the Archives. During your review, we recommend that the Department provide for the official file that will reside with the Archives any necessary written guidance regarding the need for limitations on release or other sensitivities. Our expectation is that the transcripts with such instructions will become part of the historical record of our investigation maintained by the National Archives."
"However," Loudermilk's letter to the Archivist of the United States continued, "the original and unredacted letter, as well as the referenced records, were not provided to the Committee on House Administration as required by H. Res. 5."
Additionally, the Select Committee "sent certain documents to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with similar instructions," Loudermilk wrote to Archives.
"While the Select Committee letter requested the timely return of such documents, it is unclear whether the White House or DHS did in fact return the records, or if they were turned over to the Committee on House Administration, as requested."
Loudermilk asked for an inventory of everything that was turned over to Archives from the Jan 6 committee, all items pertaining to Jan 6, as well as any material that originated with the Jan 6 committee but were turned over to Archives by the White House or any other agency.
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