The Department of Justice must conduct a broad investigation into the destruction of federal records by government officials involved in the response to the January 6th insurrection and efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, according to a complaint sent today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. An increasing amount of evidence suggests that officials across multiple government agencies destroyed federal records pertaining to January 6th and related issues.

The Secret Service reportedly erased text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, despite a request from DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to preserve and share copies of the text messages. Subsequent reporting revealed that text messages of then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and then-acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli were also deleted for a key period leading up to January 6th. 

The problem of destroyed text messages extends beyond DHS. It was reported that the Department of Defense wiped January 6th and other text messages from the phones of key Pentagon officials, including former acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, former Chief of Staff Kash Patel, and former Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, without preserving text messages sent from those phones.

“It is now clear that the problem of deleted text messages and other records is not limited to the Secret Service and DHS,” said CREW General Counsel Adam Rappaport. “The failures of a widening group of federal agencies leaves us with gaping holes of knowledge, and the Department of Justice should take immediate and thorough action to determine the extent of the problem, hold accountable those responsible for destroying critical records, and determine whether these records can be recovered.” 

CREW previously called on the Department of Justice to investigate missing records revolving around the insurrection. CREW filed a complaint in July with the Department of Justice to determine whether Secret Service agents violated federal criminal law by destroying text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021. In April, CREW urged the DOJ to investigate whether Donald Trump violated federal criminal law by destroying critical records from January 6, 2021 before leaving office. White House presidential call logs from that day contain a significant gap of more than seven hours during a critical period when the Capitol was under attack by insurrectionists.

“A full factual record is needed to hold responsible those involved in the insurrection and efforts to overturn the results of a valid election,” said Rappaport. “Without it, there will be no accountability for the unprecedented attack on our democracy.”

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