Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told the Hill’s John Solomon and Buck Sexton this week that Mueller should be investigated after the Justice Department sent a batch of texts between former FBI operatives Peter Strzok and Lisa Page down the memory hole.
“Mueller should be investigated for destruction of evidence for allowing those text messages from Strzok to be erased, messages that would show the state of mind and tactics of his lead anti-Trump FBI agent at the start of his probe,” Giuliani said.
Investigation over deleted texts?
Before their texts were exposed, Strzok and Page were involved in the Clinton-email and Russia-Trump investigations. Mueller removed Strzok from the special counsel investigation of election interference in July of 2017 over the anti-Trump texts he exchanged with Page. Strzok was later fired from the FBI this August.
In some of the texts that have been recovered and exposed to the public, the pair raged against then-candidate Trump and vowed to stop him from becoming president while the Russia probe was in its early stages.
In a report released earlier this month, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog said they recovered an additional 19,000 texts dating from the beginning of the Russia probe, before Trump fired James Comey and Mueller was appointed special counsel in May of 2017. The FBI “failed to retain” those texts and blamed technical failures.
The Inspector General further reported that both Strzok and Pages’ iPhones — a second set of phones issued to them by the special counsel’s office (SCO) — had been wiped and reset to factory settings when the pair left the Mueller investigation. The SCO reported that “no substantive text messages were found” — so they did not deem it important to retain the records.
Giuliani said that Mueller appears to be trying to cover-up wrongdoing and called for a second special counsel to investigate him. “That should be investigated, damn it, that should be investigated fully. You want a special counsel, get one for that,” Giuliani said, comparing the alleged cover-up to Watergate.
“It’s actually worse than Rose Mary Woods,” he said. “She erased less than 19 minutes of conversation, but the FBI got rid of more than 19,000 messages [and the messages from the time Strzok and Page worked for Mueller are lost forever.”
Criticizes Witch Hunt
Many see the texts as evidence of a plot by the FBI and DOJ to take down Trump with a biased investigation. Giuliani eviscerated Mueller for leading what he described as an off-the-rails probe that the former mayor was confident would end soon.
Giuliani criticized the FBI for using the “piece of garbage” Christopher Steele dossier to get FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign and said that Trump would not answer additional questions from Mueller after submitting written responses to questions last month.
“They have everything they need unless they just want to set a perjury trap,” he said.
Trump and his lawyers have argued that Mueller is springing “perjury traps” to coerce witnesses into implicating the president. Trump called Mueller’s investigation a “total mess” last month and accused him of witness tampering, adding that Mueller’s agents were “screaming and shouting” at witnesses and bullying them into coughing up incriminating testimony.
Giuliani and others have noted that Mueller’s targets have mostly been charged with process crimes like making misstatements to investigators and that no evidence of collusion has surfaced. Several Trump associates have been charged and sentenced for various crimes, mostly unrelated to Trump himself or any collusion. Trump attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in jail this month for campaign finance violations over hush money to women that Trump had affairs with.
“We’re now four degrees of separation from the original mandate of the investigation, which was collusion which did not occur,” Giuliani said.