On Wiping Evidence
Terry H. Schwadron
Jan. 30, 2022
They must think we’re idiots.
Not only are critical texts missing from selected Secret Service phones for Jan. 5 and 6, 2021, but now we learn that the same two days are missing from updated phones of the former top leaders of Homeland Security on the same days?
Once, maybe. Twice, give me a break.
As reported in The Washington Post, discovery of missing records for Homeland Secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli arose as congressional and Justice Department investigators are piecing together the efforts directed from inside the White House to an effort by the president and his inner circle to overturn the results of the 2020 election, leading to the Capitol riot.
And, once again, it turns out that Homeland Security notified that agency’s inspector general in late February that the text had vanished in a “reset” of their government phones when they left their jobs in January 2021. There were more missing texts, including from a supervisor in the unit assigned to oversee the phone changes.
Where are the servers? Where are the backup procedures? How many individuals are allowed to destroy government records — or why are they texting in the first place if the records are not recoverable?
Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari did not press why to explain why Homeland did not preserve records nor seek ways to recover the lost data, according to the Post. Nor did he tell the congressional committee investigating events leading to Jan. 6.
The missing Secret Service data is now being probed as a possible crime. The agency was told by the congressional committee on Jan. 16 to preserve all records.
As Michael Corleone would say, don’t insult our intelligence.
Most of us are watching these events from afar; it’s a test of accountability at all levels for sustained actions across a variety of plots and schemes aimed at interrupting Congress’ certification of elector slate results. While there seems a ton of testimony, email and documents to support the idea that an inner group violates the letter and spirit of multiple federal laws, what is hanging in the air is a question of whether political leaders up to Donald Trump are tagged with responsibility and not just those who broke into and entered the Capitol.
We need to remember that Justice requirements on prosecutions will rely on judgments around assembling provable court cases, not just common sense. None of these texts will prove or disprove a single case, but they reflect a desire to forgo cooperation or worse.
We may not follow every detail of the unfolding probes, but the words “cover-up” easily spring to mind here about apparent evidence that conveniently vanishes at the same time over different groups who may have been involved.