Some senior Trump administration officials had their phones "wiped" by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the U.S. Army after the former president left office, meaning messages that were sent around the time of the Jan. 6 Capitol breach are no longer accessible, court filings show.
American Oversight had sought the communications that those officials had with Trump, former Vice President Pence, Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, or anyone communicating on their behalf on Jan. 6.
The watchdog group submitted the FOIA requests pertaining to the records on Jan. 12, 2021, six days after the breach of the Capitol building.
Specifically, FOIA requests sought communications from former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former chief of staff Kash Patel, and former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, Paul Ney, the Defense Department’s general counsel; and James E. McPherson, the Army’s general counsel.
Secret Service SwipeThe DOD's admission in the filings creates further transparency issues regarding the Jan. 6 select committee's investigation into the events of that day in 2021 and how the government responded.
It also comes shortly after it was revealed that U.S. Secret Service text messages sent on the day the breach had also been deleted.
The U.S. Army Public Affairs media relations chief, Col. Cathy Wilkinson, said in a statement to the news outlet: "It is our policy not to comment on ongoing litigation."
In a statement to The Epoch Times, the Defense Department also declined to comment "on pending litigation."
'Cross-Agency Investigation' NeededIn a letter (pdf) sent to Attorney General Garland on Tuesday, Sawyer said the alleged deletion of the records of communication by multiple agencies "bolsters the need for a cross-agency investigation into the possible destruction of federal records" adding that the communications "could have shed light on the actions of top Trump administration officials on the day of the failed insurrection."
The letter also stated that Patel, Ney, and Miller had all departed from their roles "after American Oversight had submitted FOIA requests specifically seeking text messages and requesting that the agencies take steps to prevent the deletion of potentially responsive records."
"American Oversight accordingly urges you to investigate DOD’s actions in allowing the destruction of records potentially relevant to this significant matter of national attention and historical importance," the letter said.
Additionally, American Oversight has also requested the communications of Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and Director of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt.
The Army told the watchdog group that it has initiated a search for records held by McConville and Piatt, and estimates that the search will be completed by the end of September.
The Epoch Times has contacted the DOD and the Justice Department for comment.