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Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa sent a letter to the Justice Department Wednesday asking for more information regarding missing phones used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team during the Russian collusion investigation.

The senators sent the letter after finding out the Justice Department “could not locate 59 of the 96 phones used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team,” according to Grassley’s website.

The two senators wrote to the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General in September 2020 regarding allegations that cell phones assigned to “multiple people on then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team were ‘wiped’ for various reasons during [the Russia investigation].”

In a response on May 11, 2021, the OIG reported that 59 of the 96 phones assigned the Special Counsel’s Office were unaccounted for.

That report showed that in June 2019, the DOJ took possession of 79 of 96 phones that belonged to members of Muller’s team to be reviewed for official records. The records included notes and text messages, which were then sent to DOJ or FBI email systems for preservation. However, not all the phones were subject to record preservation.

The two lawmakers are now following up with requests for further information including:

  • the names of SCO employees whose cell phones were not reviewed for official records
  • what, if any, actions are being taken by the DOJ to recover the 59 phones the department has been unable to locate
  • whether the DOJ reviewed the phones to ascertain “whether they were used to leak sensitive or classified information.”

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Federal Agency

Justice Department limits federal government’s ability to obtain journalist communications secretly

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The Justice Department on Monday issued new guidelines that limit the federal government’s ability to obtain journalists’ communications secretly.

“The United States has, of course, an important national interest in protecting national security information against unauthorized disclosure,” Attorney general Merrick Garland wrote in a memo announcing the new guidelines, according to the Associated Press.

The guidelines prohibit federal investigators from obtaining journalists’ records, including phone and electric communications. It also prohibits the federal government from compelling testimony from journalists.

The new guidelines come after the White House announced on June 5 that it would change its policy towards journalists. The change comes after discovering that the Justice Department under former President Donald Trump had secretly obtained the records of journalists from CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

The only circumstances the government can obtain records is if the journalist is a target of a criminal investigation, is an agent of a foreign power, or if obtaining the information could prevent death or bodily harm, according to NBC News.

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Election

Federal Election Agency Drops Language Banning Voting Equipment That Connects to the Internet: AP Report

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In the aftermath of 2020, election integrity is on every good conservative’s mind.

All around the country, state legislatures are stepping up (and Texas Democrats are stepping out) to make sure that every legal vote is counted and that our elections are safe and secure.

Naturally, these efforts have garnered primarily negative attention from left-wing media.

What has not been publicized anywhere near as much was the fact that the federal government was doing the same thing — but now isn’t.

According to The Associated Press, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission prepared draft guidelines on election security in February that did not include language banning voting equipment with internet connectivity.

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The EAC does not have binding authority, but some states apply federal guidelines to the letter, meaning the commission’s words have a real impact on American voters.

Unfortunately, the ban’s absence in the February guidelines does not appear to be a mistake. The AP reported that voting machine industry officials had private meetings with federal regulators, and the change came shortly after.

You would think that the voting machine industry would have a vested interest in ensuring that its machines are safe and secure, but evidently, for some, election integrity can burn at the altar of profit.

It’s not important if online evildoers hack voting machines and alter results if the executives make their money, after all.

Fortunately, Free Speech for People, a left-wing nonprofit, has filed a lawsuit against the EAC alleging the commission violated transparency rules in its meetings with industry leaders.

Susan Greenhalgh, speaking for the group, told the AP that the commission was supposed to include the public in every step of the regulatory process.

“Instead, the EAC brazenly flouted its legal obligation to adhere to a transparent process, choosing instead to invite the manufacturers into private meetings so they could alter the voting system standards to ease requirements and benefit the manufacturers,” she continued.

The AP said the lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington.

EAC officials defended their new guidelines, asserting that under the new rules, any feature that allows a voting machine to connect to the internet “must be disabled.”

The previous rules, they determined, put an undue burden on voting machine manufacturers and significantly increased their expenses.

I’m no computer whiz (my approach is usually to scream at technology until it works), but something doesn’t feel right about all of this.

As a voter, I am much more comfortable with the notion that any machine I use is fundamentally unable to use the internet. I don’t want to be the person whose voice is smothered by hostile actors.

While this wouldn’t affect all states, the ones in which it would concern me. Evidently, I’m not the only one. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose reassured his constituents last month that his state would be taking a stronger stance.

OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE FRANK LAROSE SAID HIS STATE’S VOTING MACHINE STANDARDS GO FURTHER THAN THE U.S. ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION’S, WHICH DIDN’T BAN WI-FI CAPABILITIES @FRANKLAROSE @EACGOV HTTPS://T.CO/VHAGJWSCMG PIC.TWITTER.COM/H7P7PT4804

— STATESCOOP (@STATE_SCOOP) JUNE 17, 2021

I hope the lawsuit succeeds. Our elections are not something in which we can cut corners.

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Federal Agency

Top Justice official resigns after revelations about agency having subpoenaed email data

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The Justice Department’s top national security official is resigning from his post after revelations the agency subpoenaed from Apple email data from the media, members of Congress and others during the Trump administration in an attempt to learn who was leaking information on the Russia collusion investigation.

John Demers will leave his position by the end of next week, a Justice Department official told the Associated Press on Monday. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the the wire service on the condition of anonymity.

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