Trump is yelling into the phone about how Mueller “terminated the emails … he terminated them. They’re gone. And that’s illegal. That’s a crime.”
Bartiromo pretends to know what he’s talking about and tries to ask a question. Trump just keeps ranting over her. pic.twitter.com/yBK676eGmn
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 26, 2019
During a wild phone interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo, President Donald Trump accused Robert Mueller of committing a “crime,” namely the “illegal” termination of texts between former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
Bartiromo asked how come we didn’t see all of their emails, and Trump had an answer.
“Robert Mueller terminated their text messages. He terminated them. They’re gone. And that’s illegal. That’s a crime,” the president said.
“How come that has not been discussed where is that in the courts? Are you going to see accountability for that?” Bartiromo responded.
“Can you imagine what they said, these stupid lovers,” Trump responded, in part. “This was a love serenade going on, okay.”
The president has semi-often complained about the deletion of thousands of text messages and blamed “Angry Democrats” for it. Back in January, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani called for an investigation of Mueller, also accusing the then-special counsel of erasing messages.
“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?” Giuliani asked. “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!”
The context was that Giuliani was not buying the Office of Inspector General (OIG) report that said there was “no evidence” that Strzok or Page “attempted to circumvent the FBI’s text message collection capabilities.”
The report explained why it was “unlikely” that they did so:
[They would have needed] Root access to the devices, which requires a high level of sophistication;
Collection tool or Samsung Knox administrator access, which is unlikely for an employee not tasked with mobile device administration, compliance, monitoring or security.
“As noted by the OIG, because of the level of sophistication and access that would be required, it was unlikely that Ms. Page or Mr. Strzok attempted to circumvent the FBl’s text message collection capabilities; and, the OIG found no evidence that they did,” the report said.
Both Page and Strzok had been involved with the Clinton email investigation and the Mueller probe. Strzok was taken off the Russia investigation when anti-Trump messages were discovered. Page also left the investigation, and later left the FBI altogether. Strzok was fired in August 2018.
The FBI also acknowledged that weaknesses in their data collection system could have been to blame for the missing texts.
“The FBI has been aware of — and acknowledged previously – the fact that although a majority of text messages are captured on its systems, there continue to be challenges in the collection and retention of text messages sent and received on FBI mobile devices,” the agency said. “The FBI continues to take steps to mitigate those challenges.”
The Fox Business spot featuring the president comes the morning after it was learned that Mueller was subpoenaed to appear before Congress on July 17. After his investigation concluded, Mueller declined to charge President Trump with obstruction of justice, saying it was not an option to indict a sitting president. But Mueller also declined to say he was confident Trump did not commit a crime.
“If we had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so,” Mueller said in a public statement. “Charging the President with a crime, therefore, was not an option we could consider.”
Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.
[Image via Fox Business screengrab]