Recently released Department of Justice documents reveal multiple members of then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team “wiped” their phones during the Russia investigation.
The records show that phones were wiped for a variety of reasons including forgotten passwords, irreparable screen damage, loss of the device and intentional deletion.
All of the phones were wiped of information before the Office of Inspector General could review the devices.
Mueller deputy Andrew Weismann “accidentally wiped” his phone because he “entered password too many times” in March 2018.
Lawyer James Quarles’ phone “wiped itself without intervention,” though Quarles said he didn’t have any work-related information the device.
FBI Lawyer Lisa Page’s phone was also said to be “restored to factory settings” when the DOJ received it.
At least 12 other officials whose names were redacted claimed to have “accidentally” wiped their phones or unintentionally returned them to factory settings. As many as 31 phones may have been affected.
One redacted record reads, “Phone was wiped prior to review because phone was in airplane mode and the passcode was not provided — therefore the phone had to be restored to factory settings without review.”
The records were released following a lawsuit from conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch and were first reported by Sean Davis of the Federalist.
Newly released DOJ records show that multiple top members of Mueller’s investigative team claimed to have “accidentally wiped” at least 15 (!) phones used during the anti-Trump investigation after the DOJ OIG asked for the devies to be handed over. https://t.co/VVUnfZVolm pic.twitter.com/p50PnoCBse
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) September 10, 2020
Davis tweeted, “What are the actual probabilities of more than a dozen top Mueller officials all “accidentally” nuking their phones or accidentally putting them in airplane mode, locking them, and “forgetting” their passwords so the DOJ OIG couldn’t access and examine them?”
The investigation did find that the Russian government interfered in the election and it did not exonerate President Donald Trump on obstruction of justice.
The Office of Inspector General conducted its own investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation and flagged “significant concerns with how certain aspects of the investigation were conducted and supervised.”
The probe also found at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application process to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
U.S. Attorney John Durham was tasked by Attorney General William Barr in May 2019 to conduct his own investigation into the probe’s origins.
“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham said in a statement.
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