Nunes: Mueller Officials May Have Obstructed Justice By 'Wiping' Phones
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The saga involving former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has taken another turn.
Late last week, an explosive report revealed that more than a dozen phones belonging to Mueller team members were "wiped" for various reasons.
During an interview Sunday on Fox News, California Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, suggested that Mueller's team may have obstructed justice in doing so.
The report showed that at least 27 phones of Mueller team members had been “accidentally wiped.”
"This looks like it occurred at a very interesting time. This is when the lovebirds' text messages were discovered. So, clearly, after that, everybody on the Mueller team went and wiped their phone," Nunes said.
Nunes was referring to the anti-Trump text messages between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, the two officials who were having an affair.
The Washington Examiner notes:
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report in late 2018 that said there were technical problems that made it difficult to recover and review the text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page, who were integral members of the investigations into Hillary Clinton's private email server and ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, on their government-issued phones. But the independent watchdog noted there was "no evidence" that they "attempted to circumvent the FBI's text message collection capabilities."
The newly revealed records show that data on the official phones of several members of Mueller's team, including former prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, got deleted "accidentally" before Horowitz could review the devices. Some of the reasons included entering the wrong password too many times.
Nunes said this is all very bizarre.
"The question here is: Was there an investigation? Because if there was, that could be obstruction of justice," Nunes said.
"But I think, regardless of that, this is the destruction of federal records. We cannot have a justice system, whether it's at the federal level or the state level or local level, where records are being destroyed, Maria, because that's how we have a fair and equal justice system here that, if there's misconduct of any kind, that you can go back and look at what the prosecutors were doing," he added.
Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo, who was interviewing Nunes, said that obstructing an investigation by knowingly deleting records is a federal crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The documents, released last week through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, prompted outrage among Republicans.
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley was furious about the news that the phones were wiped and want answers from the Department of Justice.
“It appears that Special Counsel Mueller’s team may have deleted federal records that could be key to better understand their decision-making process as they pursued their investigation and wrote their report,” he said in a letter addressed to Attorney General Bill Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Indeed, many officials apparently deleted the records after the DOJ Inspector General began his inquiry into how the Department mishandled Crossfire Hurricane.”
“Based on this new information, the number of times and the stated reasons for the deletions calls into question whether or not it was a widespread intentional effort,” he said.