During his Fox News show on Wednesday night, Sean Hannity advised witnesses in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign to destroy evidence, including their cell phones.
Mueller “is demanding that witnesses turn in their phones, so team Mueller — and of course, his pit bull Andrew Weissmann, and Jeannie Rhee, who worked for Clinton — get to review all of their electronic communications. He wants the phones turned over,” Hannity said. “Even texts that are on what are called encrypted apps, like WhatsApp or Signal, or one of these things. Now, maybe Mueller’s witnesses — I don’t know, if I advised them to follow Hillary Clinton’s lead, delete all your emails and then acid wash the emails and hard drives on the phones, then take your phones and bash them with a hammer into little itsy bitsy pieces, use bleach bit, remove the SIM cards, and then take the pieces and hand it over to Robert Mueller, and say, ‘Hillary Rodham Clinton, this is equal justice under the law.'”
“How do you think that would work out for everybody that Mueller is demanding their phones of tonight?” Hannity continued. “Now I’m certain the result would not be the same as Hillary’s.”
Hannity, who reportedly talks on the phone with President Trump most evenings, may have self-interested reasons for advising witnesses in the Russia investigation to destroy evidence.
In January, The Daily Beast broke news about how WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange direct messaged a Twitter account he thought belonged to Hannity and asked him to contact him via “other channels” because Assange had “some news” about Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA).
“Less than 48 hours later, Warner made headlines claiming that the Senate intelligence committee received ‘end-of-the-year document dumps’ that ‘opened a lot of new questions’ about Trump and Russia,” according to The Daily Beast report.
The “other channels” Assange referred to were presumably the very same encrypted apps Hannity mentioned during his monologue. WikiLeaks, of course, waged a propaganda campaign on Trump’s behalf during the campaign by publishing emails stolen from Democratic targets.
Then, on Wednesday, a new lawsuit filed by the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels — a woman who was paid just before the election for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump — detailed the role Hannity allegedly played in working together with Daniels’ old lawyer, Keith Davidson, and Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to quash the Daniels story in January, shortly before Daniels switched representation. That revelation came about six weeks after Cohen, whose office was raided by the FBI in April, revealed in court that Hannity is one of his clients — a conflict of interest Hannity doesn’t mention while discussing Trump on his show.
Hannity’s advice about encrypted apps comes just days after federal prosecutors accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort — who has been charged by Mueller with a slew of crimes, including money laundering and tax evasion — of witness tampering, citing communications he sent via encrypted apps including WhatsApp. As Gizmodo writes, Manafort “learned the hard way that strong encryption doesn’t really matter if you’re backing up your messages to the cloud—especially when the federal government gets a warrant to access your iCloud account.”
Hannity’s reference to Hillary Clinton and how she allegedly bashed her phone “with a hammer into little itsy bitsy pieces” refers to documents the FBI made public in September 2016 indicating that on a number of occasions, Clinton aides disposed of her use mobile devices by destroying them. But a high-ranking government official disposed of used phones in that way is not in and of itself suspicious, and Clinton was ultimately cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.