The Department of Defense and the US military have confirmed in court documents that some former senior Trump administration officials had their phones wiped at the end of former President Trump’s term, deleting any text messages that might provide an overview of the events leading up to and surrounding the January 6 Uprising.
Why is this important: The revelation, following litigation by government watchdog American Oversight, could hamper the Jan. 6 select committee’s investigation, particularly in the wake of recent confirmation that some Secret Service messages from Jan. 6 January have also been deleted.
What they say : “[W]When an employee separates from DOD or the military, they return the government-issued phone and the phone is erased,” the government said in the filing.
- “For guards who are no longer with the agency, the text messages were not retained and therefore could not be searched, although it is possible that particular text messages were saved in other locations. other systems of record such as email.”
The context: In January 2021, shortly after the insurgency, American Oversight filed January 6 records requests with former Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former Chief of Staff Kash Patel and of former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, among other Pentagon officials, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
- All three left their posts “after American Oversight submitted FOIA requests specifically requesting text messages and requesting that agencies take steps to prevent the deletion of potentially responsive records,” the watchdog wrote in a letter. urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to open an investigation in the inability to preserve the communications.
- American Oversight sued the agency for records after it received no response within the FOIA deadline.
To note: Miller, Patel and McCarthy were key players in Trump’s efforts to maintain power after losing the election. All three participated in the Department of Defense’s response to the insurgency.