'This is nuts': Top Pentagon officials reportedly had phones wiped —	deleting potential Jan. 6 evidence

Top Department of Defense and Army officials had their phones wiped by the Defense Department at the end of the Trump administration, potentially deleting evidence related to the January 6 Capitol riot, CNN reports.

"The acknowledgment that the phones from the Pentagon officials had been wiped was first revealed in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit American Oversight brought against the Defense Department and the Army. The watchdog group is seeking January 6 records from former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former chief of staff Kash Patel, and former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, among other prominent Pentagon officials -- having filed initial FOIA requests just a few days after the Capitol attack," CNN's report states.

"This is nuts. When I was at DOD everything on my government phone & laptop was required to be archived. The idea that we just wipe federal records when a presidential transition takes place is an affront to government transparency," tweeted Alyssa Farah Griffin, who previously served as the the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Media Affairs and the Press Secretary for the Department of Defense.

CNN noted that "Miller, Patel and McCarthy have all been viewed as crucial witnesses for understanding government's response to the January 6 Capitol assault and former President Donald Trump's reaction to the breach."

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The news comes on the heels of reports that text messages from Secret Service members were deleted.

American Oversight is calling for a "cross-agency investigation" by the Justice Department to investigate wiping of phone records.

"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," Heather Sawyer, American Oversight's executive director, told CNN.

The messages could be important in the House of Representatives and Justice Department investigations into whether Trump and his close advisors encouraged the deadly insurrection by the former president's supporters, which aimed to prevent the certification of his Democratic rival Joe Biden as the winner of the November 2020 election.

"So for those following, we have Secret Service agents' texts disappeared, along with those belonging to top DoD and Army officials. Who is going to go on record as to exactly whose records were wiped, when, and how?" remarked conservative commentator Amanda Carpenter.

"Acting SecDef Miller and Kash Patel of DOD join acting Sec DHS Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli - along with most of USSS - in having their Jan 6 texts deleted. DOD received FOIA for the texts days after Jan 6. Funny all these coincidences stacking up," added former FBI agent Peter Strzok.

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Secret Service agents were with Trump during the day of the uprising, and were also with vice president Mike Pence, who went into hiding at the Capitol after pro-Trump rioters called for him to be hanged.

On June 29 a former White House staffer told the House January 6 investigation that Trump had attempted to force the Secret Service to take him to the Capitol to join his supporters on that day.

According to Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, agents' phones were wiped as part of a planned replacement program that began before the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) first asked for the data, six weeks after the insurrection.

"The Secret Service notified DHS OIG of the loss of certain phones' data, but confirmed to OIG that none of the texts it was seeking had been lost in the migration," he said in a statement.

The Secret Service has been criticized for not adequately anticipating the threat of the violent action by armed Trump supporters on January 6.

With additional reporting by AFP