Last Updated on September 25, 2020
An FBI agent who worked for Special Counsel Robert Mueller told government investigators last week that other FBI agents on Mueller’s team openly joked about wiping all their text messages and data from their government issued iPhones.
In a summary of an interview related to the case involving former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, FBI Agent William Barnett said other special counsel team members “comically talk about wiping cellular telephones.” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has asked that the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General open an investigation into the wiping of the devices.
“Barnett had a cellular telephone issued by the SCO which he did not ‘wipe.’ Barnett did hear other agents ‘comically’ talk about wiping cellular telephones but was not aware of anyone ‘wiping’ their issued cellular telephones,” the summary states.
Barnett described an aggressive campaign by the Special Counsel’s Office attorneys to find evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump and/or his associates. Barnett ultimately asked to be removed from the case, saying even at that time he was sure it would become a matter investigated by the inspector general.
Records show that Mueller’s team used 92 phones over the span of its 22-month investigation into claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. In the end, the Special Counsel concluded that no evidence of collusion had been found, exonerating the President and those associated with his campaign.
Earlier this month, records obtained from the Special Counsel’s Office showed that at least 22 phones used by members of the Mueller team were “wiped clean” prior to being reviewed by the inspector general for records. The excuses given for this loss of data included the wipes being done “accidentally” or because of forgotten passwords. Two Mueller team members claimed their phones “wiped themselves.”
In addition to the 22 iPhones that were completely wiped clean, 44 devices held no records. Five other phones assigned to Mueller’s team contained one record each, and four had less than 10 records per device, this according to a log kept by the records officer.
Over the course of the Special Counsel’s investigation approximately 500 witnesses were interviewed, 2,800 subpoenas were issued, and 500 search warrants were obtained.