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Johnson, Grassley want answers on missing Mueller phones

MADISON — What happened to dozens of special phones used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team in their star chamber, “Russian Collusion” investigation of President Donald Trump?

That’s what U.S Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) want to know.

The lawmakers this week sent a letter to the Department of Justice seeking more information and records after learning the department could not locate 59 of the 96 phones.

DOJ also failed to review more than 20 phones for federal record preservation.

In September, Grassley asked about the potential violation of federal record-keeping laws after a Freedom of Information Act disclosure detailed the inventory and management of the special counsel team’s devices and showed records had been deleted. Johnson requested information from the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General about its awareness that cell phones belonging to members of the special counsel’s team were reportedly “wiped.”

The senators are now seeking further clarity on what steps the department has taken to recover the missing phones and the underlying records.

Johnson and Grassley want to know if the Department of Justice Management Division or any other agency officials reviewed the Special Counsel Office’s cell phones to determine whether they were used to leak sensitive or classified information. And they want a full inventory document detailing the property Mueller’s office had in its possession.

“These reports are troubling and raise concerns about record retention and transparency,” Johnson wrote in a letter to DOJ inspector general Michael Horowitz on Sept. 11. It’s safe to say the senator’s confidence in the DOJ’s efforts at transparency hasn’t risen since then.

Read Grassley’s and Johnson’s letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland here. 

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