It was in March of this year that American Oversight first learned from attorneys for the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army that officials who had received a government-issued phone had it wiped after they were terminated.
The Pentagon made it standard policy.
“DOD and the Army informed the plaintiff that when an employee separates from DOD or the Army, he or she returns the government-issued phone and the phone is wiped clean. For those custodians who were no longer with the agency, the text messages were not stored and therefore could not be searched, although it is possible that specific text messages may have been stored in other record-keeping systems, such as email,” court filings said.
Joint Status Report American Oversight_DoD by Daily Kos on Scribd
Heather Sawyer, who serves as the executive director of American Oversight, has now called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate the missing reports. She argued that this is especially urgent given the ongoing issue of the disappearance of the January 6 reports at the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security.
“The apparent multi-agency deletion of records from January 6th contributes to this the need for an interagency investigation into the alleged destruction of federal records,” Sawyer wrote.
American surveillance letter written to Garland on Scribd by Daily Kos
In addition to Mueller, Patel and McCarthy, the Jan. 6 texts were also sought from former Defense Department Solicitor General Paul Ney and former Solicitor General James McPherson.
Ney’s phone was wiped on January 20, 2021, his last day and the day former President Donald Trump was inaugurated. Patel’s phone was wiped on January 22 and Miller’s on February 2.
The phones of former Secretary of the Army McCarthy and Solicitor General McPherson were also wiped; McCarthy left office on 19 January 2021, and McPherson left the next day.
Ney told CNN on Tuesday that he did not personally wipe his phone before giving it away, or ever that he could recall.
“When I turned the phone in, I didn’t know what was going to be done with the device, and I didn’t know what was done with the device after I turned it on. On DoD inauguration day, I believe it’s very likely what happened and when it happened, but I don’t know why,” Ney said.
RELATED STORY: The Jan. 6 texts from the Department of Homeland Security are now missing
Records have also been requested of Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Walter Piatt and Army Chief of Staff James McConville. Both Piatt and McConville are currently with the department, so the messages on their devices should still be in place. A review of their devices has been ongoing since last September, and according to American Oversight, a response is expected next month.
“At this time, there is no indication that any of the phones have been wiped, and we are hopeful that with additional searches we will be able to find more records,” American Oversight spokeswoman Dara Silvestre told Daily Kos on Wednesday.
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Sen. Dick Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who chairs the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, last week called on Garland to investigate the missing texts at the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service.
On Monday, top House Democrats Carolyn Maloney and Benny Thompson called on Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Caffari to recuse himself from the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Secret Service text messages from Jan. 6. If he refused, an investigation would be carried out. go to the Department of Justice.
Cuffari told the committee last month that the messages were deleted as part of a previously planned reset of the device. That reset came despite several requests from Congress for employees to keep information on their devices after the Capitol attack.
Widespread reports suggest that Trump’s appointee, Kukari, actually learned the text messages had been deleted in May 2021, a full seven months before he told select committee members he first learned of the “lost” messages.
Kufari also appears to have delayed informing members of Congress about missing messages belonging to former Department of Homeland Security acting secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli. Maloney and Thompson, who also chairs the Jan. 6 committee, have requested transcribed interviews with key Department of Homeland Security officials, including Thomas Kite, Kufari’s deputy. Records obtained so far by Maloney and Thompson appear to indicate that Keith may have watered down language in an internal memo that initially emphasized the importance of preserving records, according to Kufari’s investigation into the Department of Homeland Security’s Jan. 6 response. Deputy Inspector General Kristen Fredrick has also been asked to meet with Maloney and Thompson. They respectively chair the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee.
The missing reports are important to sort out because they can provide crucial insight into the security delays and outages that were discovered on January 6. This would be especially helpful when it comes to Miller.
RELATED STORY: Questions Simmer After Former Defense Official Says Trump Never Ordered Guard Jan. 6
Mueller told the select committee investigating the uprising that Trump “never” gave a direct order to deploy 10,000 National Guard troops on Jan. 6.
However, when he appeared on Fox News a month earlier and was under oath, he said Trump did indeed order the troops.
Mueller’s tenure under Trump began right after Trump lost the 2020 election. Trump fired Mueller’s predecessor, Mark Esper, in a tweet on Nov. 9.
According to Esper, relations between Esper and Trump had soured following the national racial justice protests over George Floyd. Esper said The Washington Post The final straw came when Trump escorted him and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, along with a host of other officials, to “inspect” the damage to a church near Lafayette Park, just across the street. The White House.
Protesters were cleared from the park, pepper-sprayed and called by the police minutes before Trump walked into the church, picked up a Bible, posed for a picture and left.
In a report released last June, Mark Greenblatt, the inspector general of the Trump-appointed Interior Department, said federal police did not clear the area of protesters so Trump could pose for a photo. The use of force against the protesters was not addressed, but Greenblatt said there were plans to cordon off the area with barricades as early as that morning.
Miller hadn’t been on the job long when January 6th happened, but his role that day was important. A report by the Defense Department’s inspector general in November noted how concerned Miller was about deploying the National Guard to the Capitol in the run-up to Jan. 6. With talk of military intervention in the transfer of power circulating in the press, he was concerned. about optics.
He eventually authorized the Army on Jan. 4 to use a rapid response force team from the National Guard, but only as a last resort and under very limited circumstances.
Since January 6, questions have been steadily expanding around the chain of command on January 6 and why there was such a delay in providing support to police officers who numbered in the thousands. Many delays are due to confusion and poor communication.
But those details are murky and hotly disputed by officials both on and off the record.
In November 2021, the Pentagon was cleared of any wrongdoing in a response on January 6 by its inspector general, Sean O’Donnell. O’Donnell was appointed by Trump and continues to serve in that role. Col. Earl Matthews, a lawyer for the National Guard’s D.C. branch, disputed the report’s findings.
Matthews singled out Piatt and Charles Flynn, then deputy chief of staff for operations.
Piatt and Flynn — who is also the brother of Trump’s disgraced national security adviser Michael Flynn — turned down requests for Guard help on Jan. 6, Matthews said, because they feared what the presence of troops around the Capitol might look like.
“LTG Pyatt and Flynn stated that the optics of having a uniformed military person stationed on the US Capitol grounds would not be good,” Matthews wrote in the scathing report.
He also called both Flynn and Pyatt “reckless liars” regarding their respective Jan. 6 congressional testimony.
Flynn, like Pyatt, still holds an official position. Flynn is the commander of the US Army in the Pacific.
Matthews Memo on January 6 Daily Kos response on Scribd
The Jan. 6 committee has analyzed the National Guard’s response as part of its broader investigation. During its public hearings, the committee took a lot of testimony from White House officials, including Millay, who said Trump never ordered the Guard to be deployed, even as the calls for help poured in.
It was Pence who clearly told then-Defense Secretary Chris Mueller to “liberate the Capitol” during an intense phone call on Jan. 6.
There are no reports that Trump ever called any agency on January 6 to ask for help
“There were two or three conversations with Vice President Pence,” Milley told the select committee last month. “It was very animated and he gave very clear, very direct, no-nonsense orders. There was no question about that […] He was very lively, very direct, very firm, and to Secretary Miller, [he said] get the military there, drop the guard here, drop this situation, etc.
Milley recalled speaking with Meadows on Jan. 6 as well. Meadows was concerned that Pence seemed controlled.
Milley recalled Meadows telling him, “We have to destroy the narrative that the vice president makes all the decisions. We have to create a narrative that the president is still in charge and things are stable or stable or something like that.
“I immediately interpreted it as politics, politics, politics. Red flag for me but no action. But I remember it clearly,” Milley said.