U.S. Congressman asks Tim Cook how dozens of Mueller team’s iPhones got wiped

U.S. Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) has this week written a letter asking Apple CEO Tim Cook how dozens of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller􏰀s team’s government-issued iPhones got wiped clean of data, illegally destroying government records.

The letter, verbatim:

September 15, 2020

Dear Mr. Cook,

Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller
I write to request information from your company regarding the iPhone􏰀s feature that wipes phone data after a certain number of failed passcode attempts. I believe this information will be helpful to many Members of Congress and the American public concerned that some members of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller􏰀s team may have intentionally wiped their government- issued iPhones, illegally destroying government records in the process.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made by Judicial Watch, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has publicly released documents which indicate that several attorneys and staff working on Special Counsel Mueller􏰀s team wiped the entirety of data (including emails, text messages, pictures, and call data) on their government-issued iPhones shortly before many of the phones were scheduled to be turned in. From the events described in the DOJ-released documents, it seems to be no coincidence that so many of Mueller􏰀s staff members􏰀 iPhones were wiped due to a forgotten passcode right before turning them in. If my instinct is correct that these individuals intentionally subverted potential efforts to investigate their actions during the Mueller investigation it leads inquiring minds to wonder: what evidence was so damning that they felt the need to destroy it?

Adding to my concerns about the recently released documents is the fact that many members of Mueller􏰀s team whose phones were wiped prior to their return blamed the data destruction on an iPhone feature that automatically wipes a phone􏰀s data after the wrong passcode is entered consecutively a certain number of times. It is my hope that your company can shed light on this mechanism and how it may have played a role in this case.

To provide some background, of the at least 27 iPhones that were reported to be wiped of their data in the DOJ-released documents, over a dozen of these were reported as iPhones being wiped 􏰂on accident􏰃 because the phone􏰀s user entered their passcode incorrectly too many times. The several such incidents included in the DOJ-released documents secured by a Judicial Watch FOIA request would suggest that it is a common occurrence for a user to accidentally wipe his or her entire iPhone data due to an incorrect passcode. It would be truly shocking if the attorneys chosen to investigate the President of United States 􏰁 arguably the Democrats􏰀 􏰂best and brightest􏰃 lawyers could manage to inadvertently wipe their government-issued iPhones because they spent hours entering an incorrect passcode to a phone they had used for over a year.

It is my understanding that this security feature is intended to prevent unauthorized access via passcode guesses in the event that an iPhone is lost or stolen and includes features to prevent accidental destruction of the data by the user. In fact, widely available information indicates that it would take a minimum of 10 successive incorrect passcodes entered over the course of at least three hours for this security feature to be triggered.

In light of this concerning situation, I request that Apple provide information about this security feature and its history that might improve the understanding of Members of Congress and the American public as to whether the purportedly 􏰂accidental􏰃 wipes of iPhone data claimed by Andrew Weismann and others on Special Counsel Mueller􏰀s staff is as common as they would lead us to believe or if such a widespread technical 􏰂mishap􏰃 resulting in the triggering of this feature signals it was intentionally manipulated to erase government records. Specifically,

  1. For the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7, what is the minimum number of successive failed passcode attempts necessary to trigger the complete destruction of data on an iPhone? Would any data be recoverable via the iPhone itself or through iCloud?

  2. For the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7, what is the minimum amount of time that could pass from the first input of an incorrect passcode to the triggering of this security feature, given that the user immediately entered an incorrect passcode as soon as the iPhone unlocked from a previous incorrect attempt?

  3. Does your company keep statistics on the reliance of your users on Apple􏰀s security features, including the one at issue here? If so, what percentage of iPhone users, outside of iPhones reported lost and/or stolen, do you estimate have accidentally or intentionally wiped their iPhones as a result of this security feature? How many lost or stolen iPhones have been wiped as a result of this security feature?

  4. In creating this security feature, was it the goal of your company to minimize the likelihood that a user would accidentally trigger the destruction of data this feature ultimately leads to?

I appreciate your attention to this matter and your prompt response to the questions above.

Sincerely,

Doug Collins
Member of Congress

MacDailyNews Take: It makes perfect sense that at least 27 of the Mueller team’s iPhones got wiped. How else are you going to execute a coverup?

Note to the Mueller􏰀 team: You’re not clever. Not by a long shot. But, you sure seem dirty.

For many years, iOS has offered an option in the Passcode section of the Settings app: “Erase all data on this iPhone after 10 failed passcode attempts.”

As Daring Fireball’s John Gruber explained back in May 2018, it’s not that easy to accomplish: “It turns out this feature is far more clever than I realized, and it’s highly unlikely that your kids or jackass drinking buddies could ever trigger it.… According to Apple’s own iOS Security Guide (page 15), it would take one hour and 36 minutes. Attempts 1-4 are ‘free.’ There’s a 1-minute delay before the 5th attempt, 5 minutes before the 6th, 15 minutes before the 7th and 8th, and a 60-minute delay before the 10th… I’ve got it turned on now, and I can’t think of a good reason why anyone wouldn’t enable this.”

58 Comments

  1. Anyone with even moderate intelligence knew the “Russia, Russia, Russia” hoax was bullshit from the outset. Only idiotic MSDNCNN viewers fell for that ruse.

    The entrenched swamp will attempt basically anything to protect itself and it will take far more than a mere 8 years for it to be even halfway drained.

    1. Republican-Led Review Backs Intelligence Findings on Russian Interference.

      A new Senate report undercuts claims by President Trump and his allies that Obama-era officials sought to undermine him while investigating Russia’s 2016 election meddling.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/21/us/politics/russian-interference-senate-intelligence-report.html

      Senate Intel report confirms Russia aimed to help Trump in 2016.

      The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday reaffirmed its support for the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the goal of putting Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

      https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/21/senate-intel-report-confirms-russia-aimed-to-help-trump-in-2016-198171

      1. And, your point?

        Foreign govts have been interfering in other’s business since, well, ahh, forever.

        I assume, what you and the NYT, were really hoping to imply was that Trump “cooperated” with the Russian’s efforts, to encourage his chances.

        Wish upon a falling star. The dead horse has been kicked so many times, even the bones are gone. The “curiosities’ that have drawn the World’s eyes to years of investigations have wrought nothing….except, except, except the “curiosities” discovered on the side of the investigators…appointed to find wrongdoing.

        “at least 27 iPhones that were reported to be wiped…” makes my head jerk and that’s the 1st course.

        1. Let’s just completely ignore the numerous contacts between the Trump campaign and agents of Russian intelligence — you know, the folks who hacked and leaked the DNC emails. I’m sure there was a purely innocent explanation for everything.

            1. Lev Parnas will squeal like a pig when he is on trial. Too bad the corrupt Reps refused to allow witnesses when the Trump crime syndicate was last identified as enlisting foreigners to aid their political cabal.

            2. Yeah, that Trump! Remember when the Russians contributed $145,000,000 to his foundation, and when he was secretly pushing weapons from Libya into Syria (that ended in the deaths of several people including a diplomat), or when Melania was taking $500,000 per speech to gab with the Russians. Yeah, anyone that would do that needs to go straight to prison.

  2. The shoe is on the other foot now and the investigators are being investigated for their witch hunt and waste of taxpayers money. If 27 people purposely wiped their phones, of course they did, they deserve to be prosecuted.

    1. ………..” they deserve to be prosecuted”………..

      Like Hillary Clinton & her 33K “bleached” emails? The elite members of the cabal who reside in the swamp are untouchable, regardless of party affiliation.

      1. No, as we have seen only the Republicans get prosecuted as happened with a few of the presidents associates. Democrats are protected by the media and in turn protect their own and look the other way — justice has been politicized to favor one side. That said, fingers crossed the reckoning is coming.

        1. Billionaires own both parties. They also own or control all of the major “news” media including CNN & FOX. Justice has always been “politicized” since judges are either elected or appointed by politicians.

          You are focusing on the political theater on the stage with B grade actors,when its the billionaires behind the curtain who are controlling this country.

          1. You did not address my main two points that the Left (i.e. Democrats) are not vigorously investigated and prosecuted EQUALLY as Republicans.

            Second, billionaire puppet string conspiracy theories are just that and the biased media continues to fail their duties, see reasons in point one (above)…

  3. I find it interesting the MacDailyNews chooses to insert politics into, you know, Mac Daily News. As such and as I do with every other site, not visiting you anymore. Good luck! I, honestly, thought Mac users were more enlightened. Guess Not.

    1. Agree with Charles – I could guess this site’s views on politics before, but this is just worthless political commentary masquerading as Apple-related news. I’ve been close before, but I’m finally out. Bye now!

      1. MacDailyNews did not “insert politics.” Pointing out that 27+ iPhones do not normally self-erase and is strong evidence of a coverup is simply COMMON SENSE.

        MacDailyNews covers Apple. When a U.S. Rep. questions Apple’s CEO, MacDailyNews covers it as they should.

        Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out. You’re too stupid for this site, anyway.

        1. Provide examples of “the author” going “further and further down the worm hole of Trump cultism.”

          You have none.

          MacDailyNews pointing out that 27+ iPhones do not normally self-erase and is strong evidence of a coverup is simply COMMON SENSE.

          Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out. You’re too stupid for this site, anyway.

    2. MacDailyNews did not “insert politics.” Pointing out that 27+ iPhones do not normally self-erase and is strong evidence of a coverup is simply COMMON SENSE.

      MacDailyNews covers Apple. When a U.S. Rep. questions Apple’s CEO, MacDailyNews covers it as they should.

      Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out. You’re too stupid for this site, anyway.

  4. The DNC probably wiped the iPhones of potentially incriminating data which is illegal. Of course Russia interfered in US elections, but this is nothing new; All nations with pretensions to greatness and a wish for regional or world dominance interfere in the politics of other nations. That Hillary and her FBI and CIA friends elevated Russia’s interference into US affairs to the level of a major scandal where media even gave it a special name, “Russiagate,” is a testament that the US population can still be tricked to fear the false bogieman, Communism, long after Stalinist Communism has fallen while even China is no longer Communist except in facade form.
    So the three created Russiagate to divert attention from, and blunt Hillary’s embarrassing loss to, Donald who, as I recall, did not want to win and did not even try hard to win. He won by his very nature, I think, as an anti-party rebel which appealed to those who were dissatisfied with the traditional sleaziness of Clinton/Obama’s DNC’s and Bush RNC’s cabal and liked his unconventional approach. But now we see that he’s the movie Joker come alive to sow discord and chaos on most levels of actual US governance.
    The US also interferes in the elections of other nations. Just one gross example is its toppling of democratically elected governments of El Salvador, Panama, and Iran. It even arrested Panama’s president and invaded and killed Lybia’s Qadaffi. Now, that’s interference on a big scale.
    The lesson here is that even iPhone users like Bush, Donald, Hillary and conventional phone users like Joseph Goebbels, Nazi politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, see the supreme PR effectiveness of ascribing their own misdeeds to their opponents.

    1. The world needs wiping of Dingler and his LA (f)artistry.

      If you ever need a ranting lecture about something or other with Nazis thrown in, just read Dingler, he paints with his tiny little Dingler.

  5. Judicial Watch. The same people attacking Fauci. Also founded w/ seed money from Cordelia Scaife May/ Sarah Scaife foundation- who wanted more Americans to die younger & worried that unchecked the poor would eventually rise up & take her (their) Trust funds. Look it up, don’t take my word for it.

    1. Judicial Watch did not erase 27+ government-issued iPhones, illegally destroying government records.

      So, what evidence was so damning that the Mueller traitors felt the need to destroy it?

  6. Doing a reset so that a subsequent user can immediately configure the iPhone for the new user also wipes the phone back to factory status with the exception of the current version of iOS is left active and ready. Given the obvious and visible criminality of the Republican senate members I of course have little doubt of a willful desire to make life difficult for them.

    1. By destroying evidence, Team Mueller proved they have a lot to hide

      OK, maybe one or two screens really did get smashed so badly that a wipe was needed; perhaps another phone really was wiped by accident. But not dozens of them: Apple’s phones are far better designed than that.

      One phone “wiped itself,” according to records that Judicial Watch obtained thanks to the Freedom of Information Act: Then-FBI attorney Lisa Page’s phone had been restored to factory settings when the IG’s office received it.

      And Mueller’s top deputy, Andrew Weissmann, claims he “accidentally wiped” his phone after entering the wrong passcode too many times — twice in one month, March 2018. Funny: More than a dozen of the phones suffered the exact same “accident.”

      As Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley notes, “Many officials apparently deleted the records after the DOJ Inspector General began his inquiry into how the Justice Department mishandled Crossfire Hurricane” — the Comey-era FBI’s investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

      This coverup is a damning sign that their “investigation” involved a lot of “work” they don’t want the public to hear about.

      New York Post Editorial Board,September 16, 2020

  7. Mueller was prohibited from looking at Trump’s Russian financial transactions. Though the evidence gathered did not rise to the level of criminal conspiracy, it is clear there was cooperation and Russian intelligence agents worked with the Trump campaign. The Senate committee actual had data Mueller did not. Further, it was documented that Trump obstructed justice on up to 10 separate occasions. He will likely be charged once he leaves office, with that and other crimes. He may resign in November leaving Pence to pardon him, though that will not prevent his prosecution in NY on state bank fraud charges.

  8. I personally buy my own Apple products with my hard earned money. Of course, you, uninformed Liz, and Donald’s private Attorney General Barr are misapplying the word “Socialism” which they think is any wealth or money or service that is free to the recipient: Free college, M4A, Green New Deal. That is not classical Socialism.
    By their own wrong definition, they are the major beneficiaries of Socialism in the form of unearned tax breaks, unearned subsidies, unearned bailouts, unearned no-bid contracts, and unearned laws beneficial to the wealthy as written by the wealthy donor class. So they themselves are Socialists yet they dare not not criticize their free, unearned Socialist benefits while actually seek more to fill their continuously gaping mouths. To them, Socialism applies only to the poor who seek aid, not to themselves.

  9. All these comments are politically motivated. People shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses. This letter is from Doug Collins, one of Trump’s dupes in Congress. We don’t really know the circumstances of the source is Collins.

  10. To all the people commenting about MDN covering an Apple related political article and starting “keep politics out of it”…

    Can you say that you do the same exact thing on every other website when they inject left-wing politics into every single article?

    I’ll answer for you. No, you don’t. What you are experiencing is cognitive dissonance.

    1. And you are experiencing selective victimhood!
      Help, help, I’m being oppressed!
      Waaaaah, waaaah, someone didn’t agree with me! Their a radical! Someone said something disagreed with, that makes it ‘left-wing politics’!!!! Waaaah, waaaaaah, waaaaah! I’m melting…I’m melting….melting….what a world!

      What you think is ‘left wing politics’…I don’t know…you claim it’s so pervasive but no examples or references…just accept that the Republic party members and so-called Conservatives can dish it out but sure can’t take it. Talk about snowflakes!

  11. I agree with Charles an Zac.

    “MacDailyNews Take: It makes perfect sense that at least 27 of the Mueller team’s iPhones got wiped. How else are you going to execute a coverup?

    Note to the Mueller􏰀 team: You’re not clever. Not by a long shot. But, you sure seem dirty.”

    And MDN, you are not an impartial news gatherer. I’m done here.

    “Hasta la vista, baby.”

  12. wow. after over 20 years, ima finally have to say goodbye to mdn. your “daily take” on this is just too far over the edge. so long, and thanks for all the fish…

    1. and how are trumps policies helping you? does the splash page for your site BEGGING for money give you pride? you’re on the wrong side of history, which makes me sad, because back in the day, you were a beacon of hope for the platform. today, you’re an abomination.

      1. You fucking takers block ads and, when asked to kill ads by contributing, you don’t.

        All you do it TAKE. TAKE, TAKE, contribute nothing of value, and COMPLAIN.

        Get the FUCK lost. You’re less than worthless.

        1. i’m sorry, but WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?!!?
          what do you know about my on-line support of mdn, and/or buying habits? can you prove that i didn’t contribute when asked? or are you too busy riding your fucking high horse right now?

          go fuck yourself.
          since, clearly, no one else will fuck you.

  13. I’m always fascinated how 50+ people will show up for an article on this website which has political overtones, but only 2 or 3 comment on a regular mac article. Do you guys have some kind of “political detection bot” that roams the Internet, and pulls up political articles on small websites like Macdailynews? — so you can post intelligent comments such as “It’s Obama/Clinton/Carter/Johnson/Kennedy’s fault!” . . . maybe if you set your bot to visit all Macdailynews articles–about Macs, the owner wouldn’t have to pander to the lowest common denominator.

  14. This is typical Leftist cancel culture response- “I’m not visiting your site anymore”.

    Cool. See ya. and yes- you’ll check the page tomorrow. Leftist boycotts are rarely successful. They give in to their urges.

    All of that to say attacking MDN for pointing out something NON-POLITICAL is ridiculous. You do NOT wipe 27 iPhones if you are not hiding something- especially if doing so is a violation of law.

    That’s not politics. That is fact.

    MDN, a donation heading your way for putting up with this leftist whining.

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