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Johnson asks DOJ watchdog to investigate Mueller team phones over erased information

Johnson asks DOJ watchdog to investigate Mueller team phones over erased information
© Washington Post/Pool

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGrassley returns to Capitol after having coronavirus McConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection MORE (R-Wis.), the chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, is asking the Justice Department inspector general to investigate new documents that indicate members of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's team erased some records from their official phones.

"These reports are troubling and raise concerns about record retention and transparency," Johnson wrote in a letter to Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general Michael Horowitz. "Therefore, I respectfully request that your office open an investigation into this matter to determine what, why, and how information was wiped, whether any wrongdoing occurred, and who these devices belonged to."

The letter comes after documents released by the Justice Department this week say information was scrubbed from at least 15 phones. The records cited forgotten passwords, physical damage to the phones and hardware issues to explain the erasures.

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Besides requesting that Horowitz open an investigation into the documents, Johnson is also asking for answers to a number of questions, including when the DOJ was made aware of the issue and if the inspector general has the ability to retrieve the information from the phones. He’s asking for answers to his questions by Sept. 18.

Johnson is also winding down a related probe into the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's contact with Russians in 2016, an inquiry that ultimately transformed into Mueller’s probe. 

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Grassley returns to Capitol after having coronavirus MORE (R-Iowa), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has also sent a letter to the FBI and DOJ asking about the wiped phones.