A authorities watchdog group stated Tuesday that the Pentagon “erased” the cellphone textual content messages of key Trump administration Protection Division officers after the Jan. 6 assault on Capitol Hill, and is now urging Legal professional Basic Merrick Garland to launch an “interagency assault. investigation into doable destruction of federal data.
American Oversight, which describes itself as a nonprofit watchdog that makes use of public data requests to fight corruption, filed a number of Freedom of Data Act requests inside days of January 6, 2021, on the lookout for textual content messages and different communications between prime Pentagon officers, together with Appearing Protection Secretary Chris Miller, his chief of workers Kash Patel and Military Secretary Ryan McCarthy.
In March, the Pentagon filed courtroom paperwork acknowledging that textual content messages belonging to these folks had been deleted, however framed that motion as normal working process each time an worker leaves the division.
“When an worker separates from the Division of Protection or the Military, she or he surrenders the government-issued cellphone and the cellphone is wiped,” the Pentagon wrote in response to American Oversight’s FOIA criticism. “For custodians who’re now not with the company, the textual content messages weren’t preserved and due to this fact couldn’t be searched.”
However in its letter to Garland on Tuesday, American Oversight accused the Pentagon of knowingly deleting data beneath energetic FOIA, and framed this deletion as one more effort by these companies to cover the actions of administration officers.
In brief, the Division of Protection apparently eliminated messages from senior Division of Protection and Military officers in response to pending FOIA requests that would have make clear the actions of senior Trump administration officers on the day of the revolt. failed,” American Oversight Govt Director Heather Sawyer wrote.
CNN first reported on the deletion of Protection Division officers’ textual content messages.
Sawyer urged Garland to analyze not solely the Pentagon’s conduct, but in addition the US Secret Service’s obvious deletion of its brokers’ textual content messages.
“Accordingly, American Oversight urges you to analyze the Division of Protection’s actions in permitting the destruction of data probably related to this essential matter of nationwide consideration and historic significance,” the letter stated.
Reached for remark, Military spokeswoman Col. Cathy Wilkinson advised ABC Information: “It’s our coverage to not touch upon ongoing litigation.”