SERVICE CHARGES: Political watchdog group sues federal agents over deleted texts
Political watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has sued the Secret Service over its deleted text messages, accusing the agency of violating federal law by failing to preserve key communications in the days leading up to, and on, January 6th.
The lawsuit states:
This action challenges Defendants’ violation of their nondiscretionary duties under the FRA to initiate an enforcement action through the Attorney General to recover federal records unlawfully destroyed or alienated from government custody.
The missing records include text messages of Trump administration officials at DHS, the Secret Service, DOD, and the Army that were improperly deleted after being requested as part of investigations into the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol. Also missing are federal records from former acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli’s personal phone that remain, on information and belief, unlawfully outside of government custody.
The USSS and other federal officials were told to back up their communications. Less than two weeks after the violent attack on the Capitol, Congress requested the records – 10 days later they were erased.
The Federal Records Act mandates the Justice Department enforces recovery and restoration of communications when discovered they were illegally destroyed.
“Missing and destroyed federal records from top officials undermine government transparency and accountability, and it is imperative that agencies are complying with record-keeping laws,” said CREW Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel Donald Sherman. “The loss of these particular federal records would leave a major gap in the factual record concerning the January 6th attack on the Capitol, impeding efforts to obtain answers and accountability for an unprecedented assault on American democracy.”
“These missing records are the property of the American public, and the government has a legal duty to recover them,” said Sherman. “Government records must be preserved or retrieved when removed from federal custody, especially when they are critical to issues of public concern.”
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