Retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said there should be a "thorough investigation" into whether cellphones belonging to members of former special counsel Robert Mueller's team during the Russia probe were accidentally or deliberately wiped clean.
During a Monday appearance on Newsmax TV's "American Agenda," Dershowitz said "no government agency should ever be able to destroy evidence, particularly when there's an ongoing investigation."
Members of the Mueller team are under scrutiny for wiping their cellphones before they could be reviewed by the Justice Department's inspector general. The Justice Department noted at least several dozen phones belonging to members of Mueller's team were wiped of information because of forgotten passcodes, screen damage, loss of the device, intentional deletion, or other reasons.
GOP lawmakers want to know if the wiping was accidental or intentional.
Dershowitz said there is technology available that can determine "whether the erasure was purely accidental or whether it was a deliberate."
"It does constitute an obstruction of justice to willfully and deliberately destroy evidence and there has to be a thorough investigation," Dershowitz said, noting he expects the U.S. attorney looking into the origins of the Russia investigation to probe the cellphone incident. "It is a potential crime and there should be a criminal investigation."
He said the FBI and CIA are "terrific" at locating information people think they erase for good.
"There's almost no such thing as permanent erasure of anything that's online," he said.
Dershowitz noted anyone with a wiped cellphone should be put under oath quickly before they know whether there is evidence against them for wiping the phones.
He said they are "more likely to tell the truth for fear of being caught" lying under oath.
"Technology in the end will prevail here, too," he said.
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