Aug 3, 2022

Jan. 6 text messages wiped from phones of Trump officials Transcript

Jan. 6 text messages wiped from phones of Trump officials Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsDefense DepartmentJan. 6 text messages wiped from phones of Trump officials Transcript

The Defense Department wiped the phones of top departing DOD and Army officials at the end of the Trump administration. Read the transcript here.

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.

Pamela Brown: (00:01)
First on CNN, new information on the insurrection investigation. Court documents are revealing that the phones of some top Pentagon officials were wiped at the end of the Trump administration. That would include any text messages relating to the events of January 6th. Our Kara Scannell is here with all the details. So Kara, what are you learning?

Kara Scannell : (00:19)
Well, Pamela, we’re learning today that the Department of Defense wiped the cell phones of several top DOD and Army officials who were leaving the Trump administration that could, of course, include text messages relating to January 6th.

Kara Scannell : (00:32)
Now these are top officials, including, at the Department of Defense, the former Secretary, Christopher Miller, his Chief of Staff, Kash Patel, the General Counsel, Paul Ney. And over at the army, the former Secretary Ryan McCarthy, his General Counsel, James McPherson, and two current officials of the Army, the Chief of Staff, James McConville and the Director of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Walter Piat.

Kara Scannell : (00:55)
Now, the thing here is we’re learning this from this lawsuit that the government watch group American Oversight filed against DOD and the Army because they filed Freedom of Information requests, wanting to obtain text messages, including communications with former President Trump, his Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, and anyone else who is acting on their behalf.

Kara Scannell : (01:14)
The big questions, of course, around January 6th is did Trump try to get the National Guard to intervene? People are looking for answers here and the DOD is saying, in a joint status report, what their position is, and what they say is that DOD and the Army convey to the plaintiffs that when an employee separates from DOD or Army, he or she turns in the government issued phone, and the phone is wiped. For those custodians, no longer with the agency, the text messages were not preserved and therefore could not be searched.

Kara Scannell : (01:46)
Now, they say that it’s possible that some of these records may have been maintained in emails. And for the two officials who are still in the Army, they say that they are looking through their records to try to find that. But it’s the latest example of the government wiping devices when senior officials leave. We’ve learned this from the Department of Homeland security, they wiped the devices of the acting Secretary, Chad Wolf, and his deputy Ken Cuccinelli, and the bigger questions about the Secret Service and their actions that day. So a lot of questions still here, Pam.

Pamela Brown: (02:12)
And it is notable that that would take place, even if it is a routine act, after an insurrection, what happen on January 6th, where clearly there will be investigations. Kara Scannell, thank you so much.

Pamela Brown: (02:23)
Let’s get reaction to this new reporting from a member of the January 6th Select Committee, Representative Zoe Lofgren.

Pamela Brown: (02:29)
Hi, Congresswoman. So what is your reaction to this new reporting that the phones of top Pentagon leadership under Trump were wiped, removing January 6th records?

Zoe Lofgren: (02:38)
Well, it’s a tremendous concern to see these various agencies not living up to their obligation to preserve records. And especially wouldn’t you think on January 6th, there might be something worth preserving and that we would want to know everything about it?

Zoe Lofgren: (02:56)
And when it comes to the Pentagon records, we can’t talk about our interviews, but Colonel Earl Matthews of the DC National Guard has publicly alleged that the generals lied to Congress and that the Inspector General’s report was erroneous and misleading. I’m not saying that Colonel Matthews is correct, but obviously text messages and all kinds of evidence from the Pentagon would be very important in getting to the bottom of who did what and who knew what on January 6th

Pamela Brown: (03:37)
Was the January 6th Select Committee aware of these deleted Defense Department records prior to today?

Zoe Lofgren: (03:44)
I do not believe so. I was not, which is another concerning matter, that this was not disclosed to us by the Department of Defense.

Pamela Brown: (03:54)
And you have interviewed some of these Pentagon officials. Can you tell us anything else that you have learned from them in terms of Donald Trump and his lack of action about calling the National Guard to the Capitol building that day?

Zoe Lofgren: (04:10)
As we showed at our last hearing, we had testimony, for example, from General Milley, that there was … the former president did nothing to contact the military about bringing in guard resources. And as you know, the rules don’t allow us to disclose testimony without the Committee voting, but what we’ve displayed publicly made that pretty clear, I think.

Pamela Brown: (04:36)
I want to ask you about Attorney General Merrick Garland saying that the Justice Department would investigate Secret Service texts if there are criminal allegations. Have you seen any evidence of criminal activity here?

Zoe Lofgren: (04:50)
It’s not possible for me to say at this point. Obviously this does not look good. The department, the agency was directed to retain everything in a letter sent by the chairman of the four committees with jurisdictions before the January 6th committee, told to retain everything, and 11 days later they erased everything. So that is a problem. And obviously the committee is a legislative committee. We’re trying to find facts. We don’t do criminal prosecutions, but I think that this needs a thorough review.

Zoe Lofgren: (05:27)
The one thing that this review should not do is prevent forensics from being applied to those phones, to see if we can recapture any of the text messages. That’s essential. And apparently the Inspector General of Homeland caused a halt to that, which was very distressing, and after not telling the committee for over a year about this entire debacle.

Pamela Brown: (05:56)
And I know that is something the committee is looking at as well. Representative Zoe Lofgren, thank you so much.

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.