The special counsel in the investigation of Utah Attorney General told the committee today that he is deeply concerned about the extent of missing electronic documents from John Swallow.
Special Counsel Steve Reich says since the last House investigative committee meeting that he and his team have encountered a series of troubling circumstances in relation to gathering electronic documents requested in subpoenas. He specifically pointed to missing emails and calendar items and malfunctioning or deleted hard drives from Attorney General John Swallow’s personal computer, work computers, and work laptops.
“While the committee has reached no conclusions on this issue, it is worrisome that the scope of the records lost here touches literally every data device that the attorney general has had, either in the attorney generals office, or at home, since he started as chief deputy attorney general,” he says.
Reich says a loss on that kind of scale is something he’s never seen before.
“I leave open the possibility that there are benign explanations for each of the things that we are seeing, but take as a whole, taken across the board, what we have learned as part of our investigation should be very troubling to the committee.”
Reich also voiced his concern that the Attorney General’s office didn’t put a hold on deleting any documents in their office until just last week.
“We think that the record here makes clear that such a hold order should have been issued much earlier than it was," he says. "Indeed, the failure of the office to issue that kind of hold order has likely had a direct and identifiable impact on the committee’s work.”
But Paul Murphy, the communications director for the Attorney General, disagrees with those claims.
“Regardless of a legislative or investigative hold, we have a retention policy, we have previous subpoenas, and so we’ve been keeping those records for a long period of time and we’ve been trying to find any records that, possibly, could be missing,” Murphy says.
He also says he believes they’ll eventually find or recover most if not all the documents the committee is looking for and that staff in the attorney general’s office are cooperating as best they can.