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Jan. 6 texts of Trump Defense officials wiped by Pentagon

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Aerial view of the US military headquarters, the Pentagon.

Jason Reed | Reuters

Text messages received and sent by top Pentagon officials who were a part of the Trump administration on Jan. 6, 2021, have been wiped from their government-issued phones, based on a federal court filing that cites statements by the Defense Department and Army.

The text messages from that day — when a mob of Trump supporters invaded the U.S. Capitol — “weren’t preserved, and due to this fact couldn’t be searched,” based on that filing.

The document says that Defense Department and Army officials have said: “That when an worker separates from [Department of Defense] or Army she or he turns within the government-issued phone, and the phone is wiped.”

The filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., was a joint status report from lawyers involved in a lawsuit by the watchdog group American Oversight against the Defense Department, Army, National Guard and Justice Department. That lawsuit seeks records related to Jan. 6 from a bunch of former Pentagon officials.

The status report was filed in March.

Nevertheless it got here to light Tuesday as American Oversight asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to open an investigation into the Pentagon’s “failure to preserve the communications, which included those of former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller and former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, from Jan. 6,” the group said.

The group in its letter to Garland noted that the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General is currently conducting a criminal investigation of the deletion of Jan. 6 text messages from the cellphones of Secret Service agents and officials.

“The apparent deletion of records from January sixth by multiple agencies bolsters the necessity for a cross-agency investigation into the possible destruction of federal records,” American Oversight Executive Director Heather Sawyer wrote Garland.

“We due to this fact urge you to exercise your authority to take control of the investigation into DHS’s
alleged deletion of records, as requested by [Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois], and to also investigate [Department of Defense] for a similar conduct — deletion or destruction of records that previously had been stored on these officials’ mobile devices, including any text messages (or messages on similar applications, resembling Signal or WhatsApp) regarding agency business on January 6, 2021,” Sawyer wrote.

Last week, the House select committee that’s investigating the Capitol riot revealed videotaped testimony by Miller, during which the previous acting defense secretary contradicted ex-President Donald Trump’s claims that he had requested that a minimum of 10,000 National Guard troops be deployed in Washington before Jan. 6.

“I used to be never given any direction or order or knew of any plans of that nature,” Miller said in his testimony. “There was no order from the president.”

A public hearing of the House committee on July 21 focused on the actual fact that Trump for 187 minutes on Jan. 6, 2021, did not take any motion to stop the attack on the Capitol by his supporters.

“Inside quarter-hour of leaving his rally, Trump knew the Capitol was under attack. But what did he do? He went to his dining room, turned on the TV, and watched the deadly revolt he incited in real time as entertainment,” Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., tweeted in the course of the hearing.

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