The ongoing probe into wiped Secret Service emails from around Jan 6 took a new turn Tuesday, when it was revealed that the Defense Department wiped the phones of top Pentagon officials when they left the Trump administration.
Among the officials who had their information wiped are former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, who assumed leadership after Trump fired Pentagon boss Mark Esper in Nov. 2020.
The texts, had they been preserved, could provide additional information about Jan. 6th, as well who reached out and when about whether to send National Guard forces to quell the riot.
The panel, as part of its wide-ranging probe, has examined such issues as what preparations were undertaken by the National Guard, which US officials did and did not phone seeking to deploy Defense Department assets, and contacts over use of the 25th Amendment to remove former President Donald Trump from office.
American Oversight sought the data from top Defense Department officials seeking communications for Jan. 6th. The Pentagon said the cell data was wiped after the officials left government
The admission came in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by American Oversight, which sued to obtain communications of officials who had contacts with former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Jan. 6.
Meadows turned over digital to the committee before he started resisting a subpoena and claiming privilege.
The text messages belonging to the officials ‘were not preserved and therefore could not be searched,’ DOD told the court.
It stated in the filing that ‘when an employee separates from DOD or Army he or she turns in the government issued phone, and the phone is wiped.’
The group sought records for former acting DOD Secretary Christopher Miller, who oversaw the Pentagon after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper in November 2020
Kash Patel, a former chief of staff to then-acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, is followed by reporters as he departs from a deposition meeting on Capitol Hill with the House select committee investigating the January 6th attack, on December 09, 2021 in Washington, DC. He said he cooperated with the committee
Watchdog group sought the data of former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, who would have knowledge of information about the use of National Guard on Jan. 6th
American Oversight filed its suit just days after the Capitol riot, before the House created its own select committee to probe January 6th — setting off a series of clashes for documents with individuals and agencies.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Jan. 6th chair Rep. Bennie Thompson have blasted the IG for the Homeland Security Department over missing data that the agency attributed to a data conversion, also undertaken just weeks after the new administration came in.
The panel is probing claims by witness former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson that Trump had a confrontation with Secret Service agents who wouldn’t let him go to the Capitol Jan. 6.
‘We are writing with grave new concerns over your lack of transparency and independence, which appear to be jeopardizing the integrity of a crucial investigation run by your office,’ the lawmakers wrote Inspector General Joseph Cuffari.
‘For those custodians no longer with the agency, the text messages were not preserved and therefore could not be searched,’ according to the filing
The group sought communications by Miller, former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, Miller’s former chief of staff Kash Patel, and other officials.
All are considered critical witnesses.
The group asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to open a probe into DOD’s failure to preserve electronic communications.
The House Jan. 6th panel, which has been releasing video snippets from witness testimony, last week put out comments from Miller where he denied ever receiving an order from Trump to have 10,000 troops at the ready to be deployed to the Capitol.
‘I was never given any direction or order or knew of any plans of that nature,’ Miller said.
Trump doubled down on the claim in a statement from his Save America PAC Tuesday.
‘The Unselect Committee of Political Thugs has not devoted one hour to the massive Election Fraud and Irregularities that took place in the 2020 Presidential Election, the reason that hundreds of thousands of people went to Washington on January 6th,’ he wrote.
‘When will they start? The Unselects also refuse to look at why Crazy Nancy Pelosi and the Mayor of D.C. turned down from 10-20,000 troops. Why is this, I wonder?’