The growing super-scandal surrounding text messages from 1/6 that were deleted by the Secret Service, Homeland Security and now the Department of Defense leaves one grasping for adjectives that fit the moment. Journalist Seth Abramson was unequivocal on Tuesday — “Biggest Cover-up in American History” — and I am hard-pressed to dispute him.
“So now we have missing Secret Service texts that could establish contacts between Donald Trump and the domestic terrorists of Stop the Steal, missing DHS texts that would reveal secret lobbying by Trump’s ‘legal team,’ and possibly missing Pentagon texts about *martial law*,” Abramson wrote on Twitter. “The *practical* question, now: do Americans have a moral right to presume the worst about Trump entities that deliberately destroyed federal evidence regarding January 6? Has the USSS, DOD or DHS left us with any choice but to assume the deleted texts would be incriminating?”
A moral right? At this juncture, can people reasonably do anything other than expect the worst?
No, the trick here isn’t convincing people that a pack of Trump-tied insurrectionists scrubbed evidence of their crimes from government devices. The trick is getting people to overcome the amazing gravitational pull of “too much already!” and summon the will to act, to make Congress act, to decide that this seemingly eternal Trumpian farce be halted and broken once and for all. This far, no farther.
It was bad enough when the Secret Service announced it had deliberately deleted all texts from the day before and day of the insurrection. When pressed, they managed to come up with one (1) text message related to the inquiry. The situation screamed “cover-up!” and carried genuinely ominous overtones of potential Secret Service involvement in Donald Trump’s efforts to overthrow the 2020 election by way of riot.
On July 29, it was reported that Homeland Security watchdogs knew of the deletions in December, and began in February the process of recovering them, only to have that process abruptly terminated by Inspector General Joseph V. Cuffari. “Cuffari, a former adviser to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), has been in his post since July 2019 after being nominated by Trump,” reports The Washington Post. A separate Post report details accusations leveled against Cuffari in 2003, when he “was accused of misleading federal investigators and running ‘afoul’ of ethics regulations while he was in charge of a Justice Department inspector general field office in Tucson.”
On August 1, “Two influential House Democrats called on Monday for two officials at the Department of Homeland Security’s independent watchdog to testify to Congress about the agency’s handling of missing Secret Service text messages from the day of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, accusing their office of engaging in a cover-up,” according to The New York Times. Joseph Cuffari is one of the two officials so called.
Not shady enough yet? Try this on for size, courtesy of CNN:
The Defense Department wiped the phones of top departing DOD and Army officials at the end of the Trump administration, deleting any texts from key witnesses to events surrounding the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, according to court filings.
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.
At least the Watergate burglars had the sense to pull their stunt in the dead of night. These clowns are out there in broad daylight trashing crucial evidence pertaining to an attempted coup, and have done so within the walls of the Secret Service, Homeland Security and the Department of Defense.
Not only is this cover-up massive, it is altogether audacious, brazen, almost arrogant… and why not? This is Washington D.C., right? Nobody ever gets into actual trouble here, unless you took a bus from out of town to participate in the Capitol riot. Then, you’re probably busted. The ones who summoned you there and turned you loose? A few deleted texts later and they’re enjoying a steak at the Capitol Hill Club, irony definitely intended.
Consider all this when you hear Trump and his people promote their plans for “Schedule F”: the deliberate replacement of merit-based government employees with people loyal to Trump. Feed this into any “what could happen?” algorithm and smoke will belch from the computer vents.
“Schedule F involves nothing less than the obliteration of vast swaths of the federal workforce,” I wrote last week, “who would reportedly be replaced by employees loyal to Trump and his madding MAGA horde. It is the realization of Steve Bannon’s war on the administrative state, combined with Trump’s apparently bottomless need to inflict chaotic pain in the name of revenge, and would damage the function of the federal government for generations.”
Those deleted texts must be recovered. I have to believe there is a way. “Nothing is ever really deleted” is what they’ve been telling us for years now.
Nothing except, perhaps, the truth.