- A watchdog group has filed a FOIA request for the Jan. 6 messages between senior Pentagon and military officials.
- But the Department of Defense and the military claimed all the posts were deleted after the employees left the agencies.
- Some messages belonged to officials directly involved in the DoD’s response to the Capitol attack.
Text messages between several senior Department of Defense and military officials were deleted shortly after they left the Trump administration, leaving a significant gap in correspondence that may have occurred on the day of the attack of the Capitol.
American Oversight, a DC-based watchdog group, had tracked all communications related to the Capitol riot from several senior Trump administration officials, including former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and former acting Secretary of Defense. Kas Patel.
The watchdog group filed a complaint under the Freedom of Information Act six days after the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol.
“The lawsuit calls for the release of communications these officials had with former President Trump, former Vice President Pence, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, or anyone else communicating on their behalf on January 6. “, the watchdog group wrote in a press release.
In March this year, the Department of Defense and the military responded that all messages from former employees of their agencies could not be reproduced because the phones had been “erased” after they left, according to court documents.
“The DoD and the Army have informed the plaintiff that when an employee separates from the DoD or the Army, they return the government-issued phone and the phone is erased,” the court document states. “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 military did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Department of Defense officer said the agency does not comment on ongoing litigation.
Some of the messages sought by American Oversight belong to senior officials who are believed to be key witnesses to the Pentagon’s response to the Jan. 6 attack.
Miller, who was deposed by riot investigators, previously said he was “never gave directives or orders or had knowledge of plans” to deploy 10,000 National Guard troops — a claim Meadows once made to Fox News host Sean Hannity.
McCarthy also attracted the interest of the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot. A senior army official once wrote in a memo that the former army secretary was “incommunicado or unreachable for most of the afternoon” on the day of the attack, according to Policy.
Retrieving communications from key Trump officials and players throughout January 6, 2021 has recently become a tedious task, facing roadblock after roadblock.
When the House panel on Jan. 6 asked for messages between Secret Service agents, Joseph Cuffari, who was an inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, claimed that all correspondence had been suppressed as part of a pre-planned “system migration” process.
Members of the January 6 committee asked Cuffari tuesday “withdraw” from any investigation in the Secret Service after reports surfaced that Cuffari’s office may have been aware of the deleted text messages earlier than expected.