59 of 96 Phones Assigned to Robert Mueller Probe Missing: GOP Senators

July 15, 2021 Updated: July 15, 2021

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) have sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) requesting more information about missing cellphones that were used by then-special counsel Robert Mueller during his investigation into former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

In a statement, the senators said they were compelled to send the letter (pdf) after the DOJ failed to review more than 20 phones for record preservation after Grassley in September 2020 asked about a possible violation of federal record-keeping laws, following a Freedom of Information Act revelation showing records on devices used by Mueller’s team had been deleted.

The DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General in September 2020, the senators wrote, told them that several phones belonging to “multiple people on then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team were ‘wiped’ for various reasons during [the Russia investigation].” Meanwhile, on May 11, the inspector general said 59 of 96 phones assigned to Mueller’s team couldn’t be located, according to the senators.

Relating to the phones, the two senators are seeking the names of the special counsel’s office team members whose cellphones weren’t reviewed by officials, if there are any actions being taken to recover the missing phones, and whether the DOJ reviewed the devices to see if “they were used to leak sensitive or classified information,” among other requests.

chuck grassley
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) speaks before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, on Oct. 14, 2020. (Susan Walsh/AP Photo)

The Mueller probe in 2018 ultimately concluded that Trump’s campaign didn’t collude with the Russian government, although Democrats in Congress have continued to accuse Trump of having a cozy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. For the past several years, Grassley and Johnson have sent a number of requests to the DOJ about the investigation, as well as asking the agency about records relating to President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

Around the same time that House Democrats were leading an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s efforts in Ukraine in late 2019, the DOJ’s inspector general released a report finding that the FBI abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court processes in obtaining—and renewing—warrants to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. In all, the inspector general found at least 17 “significant errors or omissions” in the FISA surveillance of Page.

“That so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked teams on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations that were briefed to the highest levels within the FBI, and that FBI officials expected would eventually be subjected to close scrutiny,” the report stated, “raised significant questions regarding the FBI chain of command’s management and supervision of the FISA process.”

DOJ officials didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.