A top Republican senator says the Department of Justice has done nothing to clear up the mystery of "missing phones" from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Some 22 phones that were supposed to be turned over by Mueller's team were either missing or scrubbed of all data, prompting Sen. Chuck Grassley to raise suspicions that the team could have been hiding important information.

“The Biden Justice Department has failed to tell Congress what, if anything, it’s done to retrieve the missing Mueller phones," Grassley, ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on the Senate floor this week. "The Biden Justice Department has also failed to provide the Mueller team’s existing text messages and other records.

“This is beyond suspicious, and the attorney general doesn’t seem to have a care in the world,” Grassley thundered.

Grassley and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson previously told Garland in July that they were “asking the Justice Department for more information and records” after learning that the DOJ “could not locate 59 of the 96 phones” used by Mueller’s team and after discovering that the department “failed to review over 20 phones for federal record preservation.”


DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz detailed the location of some of the phones, including devices belonging to former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and fired FBI special agent Peter Strzok, but then said the DOJ did not know the whereabouts of 59 of the 96 team phones.

Grassley demanded answers in September 2020 after it was revealed that at least two dozen phones belonging to members of Mueller’s team were “wiped” of their data before Horowitz’s investigators could review them.

The revelation about the phones was contained within 87 pages of partially redacted Justice Department records released through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group.

Many of the names were concealed, but the records show that Andrew Weissmann, a key prosecutor on the Mueller team who went on to become an MSNBC legal analyst, said he accidentally wiped the data from his government-issued phones two separate times.

Weissmann denied mishandling his government-issued phones during an MSNBC appearance in September 2020.

"I know I didn’t, and I’m confident that my colleagues didn’t either,” he said.

Many of the names are redacted in the DOJ records but mentioned instances in which, for example, data was unable to be recovered because the phone was in airplane mode and no passcode was provided or phones were accidentally wiped because the incorrect passcode was entered.

The DOJ notes on Page show her phone was misplaced by the FBI and had been “restored to factory settings” when the DOJ watchdog received it. The notes for Strzok state “no substantive texts, notes, or reminders” were found on his phone.


Grassley's frustration at Attorney General Merrick Garland was evident this week.

“The obvious message from the Biden Justice Department is that it will stiff arm congressional oversight that could prove embarrassing to the federal government,” Grassley added.

The Justice Department did not respond to the Washington Examiner's request for comment.