The Defense Department wiped the phones of top departing DOD and Army officials at the end of the Trump administration, deleting any texts from key witnesses to events surrounding the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, according to court filings.
The acknowledgment that the phones from the Pentagon officials had been wiped was first revealed in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit American Oversight brought against the Defense Department and the Army. The watchdog group is seeking January 6 records from former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former chief of staff Kash Patel, and former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, among other prominent Pentagon officials -- having filed initial FOIA requests just a few days after the Capitol attack.
Miller, Patel and McCarthy have all been viewed as crucial witnesses for understanding government's response to the January 6 Capitol assault and former President Donald Trump's reaction to the breach. All three were involved in the Defense Department's response to sending National Guard troops to the US Capitol as the riot was unfolding. There is no suggestion that the officials themselves erased the records.
The government's assertion in the filings that the officials' text messages from that day were not preserved is the latest blow to the efforts to bring transparency to the events of January 6. It comes as the Department of Homeland Security is also under fire for the apparent loss of messages from the Secret Service that day.
Miller declined to comment. Patel and McCarthy did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Defense Department did not immediately respond to CNN's request. The US Army Public Affairs media relations chief, Col. Cathy Wilkinson, said in a statement that, "It is our policy not to comment on ongoing litigation."
American Oversight is now calling for a "cross-agency investigation" by the Justice Department to investigate destruction of the materials.
"It's just astounding to believe that the agency did not understand the importance of preserving its records -- particularly [with regards] to the top officials that might have captured: what they were doing, when they were doing it, why they were doing, it on that day," Heather Sawyer, American Oversight's executive director, told CNN.
Like I said, these messages aren't lost. The warrants needed to find these texts have almost certainly been issued, and the forensic work to recover them is already underway, if not already done. A shitload of Trump regime officials need to be cooling their heels in federal prison.
I think a lot of people are going to be very surprised at just how big the list is going to be when the indictments start. Including me.