Pentagon texts become the latest Jan. 6 materials to be deleted

Investigators have learned a great deal about the Jan. 6 attack and the events leading up to the insurrectionist violence, but as we’ve discussed, it’s hard not to wonder about the materials that are conveniently unavailable.

For example, Secret Service text messages from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 have apparently been erased under controversial circumstances that are now the subject of a criminal investigation. There are also questions surrounding gaps in the White House call logs.

At a recent Jan. 6 committee hearing, we learned the Presidential Daily Diary also “contains no information from the period between 1:21 p.m. and 4:03 p.m.” the day of the assault on the Capitol.

One of my personal favorites was the reporting on then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows literally setting fire to papers in his office after a meeting with a Republican congressman who was assisting with Team Trump’s anti-election schemes.

Last week, we learned that text messages from Donald Trump’s top appointees at the Department of Homeland Security — also from the period leading up to Jan. 6 — are also missing. (According to a Washington Post report, the Trump-appointed DHS inspector general “did not press the department leadership at that time to explain why they did not preserve these records, nor seek ways to recover the lost data.” He also failed to notify Congress.)

Yesterday, as CNBC reported, the list got a little longer.

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

The revelations come by way of a lawsuit filed by the watchdog group American Oversight, which has gone to court in pursuit of records related to Jan. 6. In fact, just a few days after the attack, the organization filed Freedom of Information Act requests, seeking records related to, among others, former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former chief of staff Kash Patel, and former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy.

Officials confirmed in a court filing in March that the materials no longer exist, prompting American Oversight to ask the Justice Department this week to open an investigation into the Pentagon’s “failure to preserve the communications … from Jan. 6.”

Heather Sawyer, American Oversight’s executive director, told CNN, “It’s just astounding to believe that the agency did not understand the importance of preserving its records — particularly [with regards] to the top officials that might have captured: what they were doing, when they were doing it, why they were doing, it on that day.”

I don’t imagine we’ve heard the last of this.