President Trump has vented his fury following news that more than 15 phones belonging to the investigative team of then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller were wiped before they were handed over to the Justice Department to be examined for proof of potential bias.
In a string of tweets sent out Saturday morning, the Commander-in-chief lashed out and threatened that ‘a big price must be paid’ for the alleged wiping and for the Mueller investigation more broadly.
Mueller and his team were investigated by the Department of Justice for alleged biased in its pursuit of any proof that Trump or his administration colluded with Russia.
The investigation concluded that there was no bias but as part of it, Mueller’s team was told to hand over cellphones. Many had been wiped of their data.
Among the reasons given was that people had forgotten their passcodes, there was irreversible screen damage or people had lost them.
Andrew Weissman, Mueller’s deputy, ‘accidentally wiped’ his phone on two occasions after entering the wrong passcode too many times in March 2018, and lawyer James Quarles’ phone ‘wiped itself’ without his intervention, the documents claim.
A phone belonging to FBI lawyer Lisa Page – who was caught exchanging anti-Trump texts with FBI agent Peter Strzok – had also been wiped by the time it was handed over.
The wiped phone information emerged in newly released documents from the DoJ at the request of Judicial Watch, a conservative group.
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Andrew Weissman and FBI lawyer Lisa Page were among those on the team whose phones had been wiped before they handed them over to the Department of Justice
At least 15 phones belonging to Mueller’s team had their information ‘wiped’ before handing them over to the Inspector General newly released documents reveal
Attorney Greg Andres also had a phone that was wiped because of a forgotten passcode.
Records indicate that the phones of both Kyle Freeny and Rush Atkison were wiped accidentally after the wrong passcode was entered on too many occasions.
Records claim Lawyer James Quarles’ phone ‘wiped itself’ without his intervention
Other officials had their names redacted but made claims that they unintentionally restored their phones to their factory settings, which deleted all information pertaining to communication.
One redacted person’s phone was ‘in airplane mode, no passcode provided, data unable to be recovered so had to be wiped.’
The OIG opened the investigation into possible bias in the origins of the Russia Investigation, determining that while there was ‘significant concerns’ with how the investigation was conducted, the FBI did compile with policies when they launched the probe.
The report found that there was no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding the probe’s launch and efforts to seek a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to monitor Carter Page, Trump’s former campaign adviser.
It did find, however, that the FBI took part in a number of errors when in the application process. This included at least 17 ‘significant inaccuracies and omissions’ in the Page applications.
Attorney General Bill Barr has publicly disagreed with Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s findings.
Prior to the 2016 presidential election, Page had exchanged anti-Trump texts with the ex-FBI head of counterintelligence Peter Strzok during an extramarital affair.
The texts were seized upon by Trump as evidence of alleged political bias.
Trump has long decried Mueller’s investigation into him as a baseless witch hunt designed specifically to take him down.