Aug 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Esper says missing DoD Jan. 6 texts were likely deleted due to "normal process"

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper downplayed the revelation that the phones of some top Trump administration defense officials were wiped, telling CNN's "New Day" it was done as part of a “normal process” during the transition.

Driving the news: The Department of Defense and U.S. Army confirmed in court filings that some former senior Trump administration officials had their phones wiped at the end of former President Trump's term, deleting any text messages that could shed insight into the events leading up to and surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection.

What they're saying: "My sense is that the headline is dramatic, but when you dig into it, you find that it’s probably a process that was just executing itself,” Esper said.

  • Esper added that the matter should be "looked into" but that it was likely "just a circumstance of people leaving government two weeks or so after January 6th and their phones being wiped and cleared for the next person to take them."

When host John Avlon pointed out that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for Jan. 6 records had been filed "well before the transfer of administrations," Esper replied that "the bureaucracy largely handles that."

  • "I got to tell you from working five times in that building at the Pentagon, that is sometimes it takes a piece of paper request weeks, if not months, to get to the people that actually end up doing these things," Esper said, adding the he's "not jumping to any conclusions."
  • "We need to let this process play out."
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