Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) is calling for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general to investigate records that suggest then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team erased some cell phone records.
In a letter addressed to DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz, Johnson, chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, expressed concern about what the possible lack of transparency may suggest amid the latest developments.
The lawmaker wrote in a letter on Friday, “According to recent reports, cell phones belonging to ‘multiple people on then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team were ‘wiped’ for various reasons during [the Russia investigation].'”
“These reports are troubling and raise concerns about record retention and transparency,” he continued. “Therefore, I respectfully request that your office open an investigation into this matter to determine what, why, and how information was wiped, whether any wrongdoing occurred, and who these devices belonged to.”
Johnson also expressed concern about the timing of the occurrence since the phone records appear to have been removed “before the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) could review the devices,” according
to one article.
The letter came shortly after the release of documents by the Justice Department that suggest information was wiped from “at least 15 phones.”
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
According to the 87-page document, there were multiple claims to support the erasing of the devices including forgotten passcodes, device misplacement, and hardware issues as a result of screen damage.
The report indicates that messages, screenshots of conversations, apps, voicemails, note reminders, and more were all removed from several devices.
He also inquired about whether or not the department took measures to further investigate if the phones had been wiped, if the phones had text message capabilities, and if the department has the capability to retrieve the information from the phones.
Johnson asked to receive a response by September 18.