Former Defense Chief: Phone Wipes After Jan. 6 Are ‘Normal’

Former Defense Chief: Phone Wipes After Jan. 6 Are 'Normal' former secretary of defense mark esper testifies Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper (Greg Nash/Getty Images)

By Jay Clemons | Wednesday, 03 August 2022 03:24 PM EDT

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper minimized reports of some Trump administration officials having their phones "wiped" after the Jan. 6, 2021 unrest at the U.S. Capitol, characterizing the occurrence as "normal" and encouraging doubters to simply "let this process play out."

"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 told CNN's "New Day" program this week.

Esper might have been referring to the Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S. Army acknowledging that neither group preserved the Trump officials' phones in court filings. Similar revelations involved former President Donald Trump's Secret Service detail after the Jan. 6 events.

Esper, who served as Trump's secretary defense from 2019-20, said those occurrences were 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 countered with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for Jan. 6 records being filed "well before the transfer of administrations," Esper said that "the bureaucracy largely handles that."

"I got to tell you from working five times in that building at the Pentagon, that sometimes it takes a piece of paper request weeks, if not months, to get to the people that actually end up doing these things," said Esper, while warning "not to jump to any conclusions."

Esper's call for perspective comes on the heels of last month's chaotic testimony during the House select committee's Jan. 6 hearings — involving sworn statements that didn't afford the defendants' legal teams to cross-examine any witnesses.

For example, in early July, shortly after former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson accused then-President Donald Trump of trying to overpower his Secret Service detail inside the presidential motorcade on Jan. 6, 2021, two Secret Service agents publicly disputed Hutchinson's allegations about Trump, and volunteered to testify before the Jan. 6 House panel.

However, none of the Secret Service agents willing to rebut Hutchinson's testimony have been contacted by the House select committee.

Plus, there were reports of Hutchinson reading from a note during her sworn testimony that allegedly contained her own handwriting, even though Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann acknowledges he wrote the note.

Original Article