Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity’s opening monologue for his show on Wednesday night sarcastically advised witnesses of Robert Mueller’s investigation to follow the example former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s set while she was under investigation. However, a Media Matters researcher took a clip from the monologue out of context and people quickly jumped to their own conclusions.
Hannity was responding to reports that Mueller’s team has requested in recent weeks that witnesses in the case provide their cellphones to federal agents for examination.
Specifically, Mueller is believed to be interested in potentially deleted messages sent or received through WhatsApp, Confide, Signal and Dust.
Hannity took the opportunity to mock Clinton, who controversially deleted thousands of emails ahead of an FBI probe into allegations that she improperly used a private server for State Department business.
He encouraged witnesses to follow Clinton’s “lead” by destroying their own devices before submitting them to Mueller’s team.
Andrew Lawrence, the senior researcher for Media Matters, took Hannity’s comments out of context and tweeted, “Tonight Hannity is freaking out about Mueller searching encrypted apps and ‘advised’ all Mueller witnesses to ‘bash’ their phones ‘into itsy bitsy pieces.'”
The clip attached to the tweet showed a snippet of the Fox News host’s commentary to back up the claim that Hannity is openly calling for the destruction of evidence, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
Hey remember when Assange DM’d Hannity asking him to reach out on an encrypted app?
Tonight Hannity is freaking out about Mueller searching encrypted apps and “advised” all Mueller witnesses to “bash” their phones “into itsy bitsy pieces” pic.twitter.com/cZhaUqVNQk
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) June 7, 2018
“If I advised them to follow Hillary Clinton’s lead, delete all your emails and then acid-wash your emails and hard drives on the phones, then take your phones and bash them with a hammer to little itsy bitsy pieces, use BleachBit, remove the SIM cards and then take the pieces and hand them over to Robert Mueller, and say, Hillary Rodham Clinton, this is equal justice under the law,” Hannity said.
What Lawrence failed to mention or include in the tweet was the conclusion of that train of thought of the mishandling of the Clinton email investigation. Over 30,000 emails were deleted during the FBI’s investigation of the use of Clinton’s private email server, according to The Hill.
Hannity concluded, if the evidence inside the phones was destroyed, “how do you think that would work out for everybody who Mueller is demanding their phones of tonight? I’m certain the result would not be the same as Hillary’s.”
Lawrence’s tweet as of Thursday afternoon has over 6,493 retweets, and many people were outraged at the Fox News host for allegedly calling for obstruction of justice.
“Now purely by coincidence, it seems like the part that Lawrence left off completely changes the tenor of Hannity’s remark,” Alex Griswold wrote for The Free Beacon. “Hannity is in no way saying that those under the Mueller investigation should destroy their phones. In fact, he’s saying the exact opposite, that unlike Hillary Clinton, they’d face serious legal consequences.”
To clear up any confusion on the tone of his remarks, Hannity mentioned that he did not intend his advice to be taken literally.
“Mueller wants everyone’s cellphones,” Hannity said. “My advice to them, not really, kidding, bad advice, would be, follow Hillary’s lead. Delete them, acid wash them, bust them up, take out the SIM cards and say here Mr. Mueller, here, I’m following Hillary’s lead.”
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