Rudy Giuliani, attorney for President Donald Trump, appeared on Hannity Wednesday night and made a bold declaration: Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be investigated for destroying evidence. This was in reference to thousands of text messages between former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page that had gone missing, only to be recovered later. Messages between the two, who had both worked on the Russia investigation, included texts that expressed anti-Trump sentiment.
Strzok was taken off Mueller’s team after the texts were first discovered, and was fired from the FBI after an Inspector General report found that his messages demonstrated a possible willingness to act on his own political bias.
“Well, this would be a massive scandal if it happened to us, Giuliani said about the missing messages and how they would be treated if they had been on Trump’s end. He then went on to blame Robert Mueller himself for deleting the texts, thousands of which were later found using digital forensic tools.
“It was erased by Mueller, by the way. It was erased by Mueller’s record officer who claims that he or she looked at them and they don’t contain anything pertinent. Now how can that be? Strzok and Page were texting everyday about how much they hated Trump … all of a sudden they went to work for Mueller and they stopped texting back and forth? It makes no sense!”
A Justice Department Inspector General report on the missing messages explored how the text messages went missing and the efforts made to recover them. That report said that the missing texts that were sent using their FBI-issued Samsung phones were the result of a faulty FBI data collection tool, which to this day fails to retrieve all messages from 10 percent of agency devices. The report discussed how the texts were eventually recovered, and notes that roughly half of the roughly 19,000 messages were duplicates because the same messages between Strzok and Page were on both of their devices. It also noted that it could not be determined if experts were able to recover every missing text.
“Mueller has to be investigated for wiping out those texts at an extremely relevant period of time. They say it’s part of the Justice Department retention policy. Garbage! It’s not part of the Justice Department retention policy to destroy evidence! You can’t supersede the law.”
What Giuliani appeared to have been referring to was not the known missing texts that were later recovered, but the lack of messages recovered from Strzok and Page’s Special Counsel’s Office-issued iPhones. Indeed, Mueller’s Records Officer told the Office of the Inspector General that, as per procedure, Strzok’s iPhone was reviewed and was determined to have had “no substantive text messages” before it was later wiped clean and reset to factory settings before being reissued to someone else. The report said that Page’s phone had not been reissued and that the Records Officer had not reviewed its contents, but it “did not contain any data related to Page’s use of the device” by the time the Inspector General’s office examined it.
Regarding the thousands of known missing texts that were later found, the Inspector General report concluded that there was no evidence that the disappearance of the text messages was the result of any foul play by Strzok or Page. It did not address the possibility of other officials intentionally deleting them.
[Image via Fox News screengrab]