Robert Mueller on Wednesday confirmed that he believes his investigation into Russian election interference was hampered by members of the Trump campaign deleting communications.
“We believe that to be the case,” Mueller said during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee.
He said he believed the same for the deletion of electronic messages.
Asked if it was fair to say “lies, deletion of text messages and witness tampering” left his team unable to fully assess the extent of election interference, Mueller responded “I’m not certain I would adopt that characterization in total.”
However, he agreed with his report’s conclusion on potential gaps due to incomplete information, saying “we don’t know what we don’t know.”
The claim was also made in Mueller’s final report concluding the Russia investigation, which read in part: “The Office learned that some of the individuals we interviewed or whose conduct we investigated—including some associated with the Trump Campaign—deleted relevant communications or communicated during the relevant period using applications that feature encryption or that do not provide for long-term retention of data or communications records.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who briefly ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, further asked Mueller on Wednesday why truthful statements were important to such investigations.
“Because the testimony of the witness goes to the heart of just about any criminal case you have,” Mueller replied.