On Wednesday night, Sean Hannity urged witnesses in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to destroy their phones.
In the opening monologue of his show "Hannity," the Fox News host indicated that investigators in the "Mueller witch hunt" are "demanding that witnesses turn in their phones."
"He wants the phones turned over," Hannity said, referring to the special counsel. "Even texts that are on what are called encrypted apps, like WhatsApp or Signal."
Hannity went on to claim – without offering proof – that his proposed tactics were used by Hillary Clinton during the investigation into her private email server. The Fox News star's suggestions seemed at least partly sarcastic.
"If I were to advise them to follow Hillary Clinton's lead," Hannity continued, "delete all your emails and then acid wash the emails on the hard drives on your phones. Then, take your phones and bash them with a hammer into little itsy-bitsy pieces. Use BleachBit, remove the SIM cards and then take the pieces and hand them 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 who Mueller's demanding their phones of tonight?" Hannity asked. "I'm certain the result would not be the same as Hillary's."
It seems that Republicans, President Donald Trump included, are still obsessed with Clinton's emails.
This morning, Trump tweeted, "When and where will all of the many conflicts of interest be listed by the 13 Angry Democrats (plus) working on the Witch Hunt Hoax," he asked. "There has never been a group of people on a case so biased or conflicted. It is all a Democrat Excuse for LOSING the Election. Where is the server?"
Perhaps he watched Hannity's segment or spoke to him before bedtime?
Destroying or altering evidence is a crime under U.S. federal law and can result in up to 20 years in prison.
Hannity's segment followed reports that Mueller had requested that witnesses turn in their phones so he could examine private messages on encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, Signal, Dust and Confide.
The witnesses have turned in their phones to Mueller to avoid a subpoena, according to CNBC. While it's unclear if Mueller has discovered anything, CNBC notes that "investigators seem to be convinced that the apps could be a key to exposing conversations that weren't previously disclosed to them."
The request came after Mueller's office accused former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort of attempting to communicate with witnesses in the investigation through the same type of programs. Encrypted applications are tools that give users the ability to communicate without being monitored.
WhatsApp, for example, promotes itself as a way to safely communicate with people overseas. "With WhatsApp, you'll get fast, simple, secure messaging and calling for free, available on phones all over the world," its website explains.
Dust markets itself as a "safer place to text." It notes that, with its application, "you can erase your messages off other people's phones."
"No messages are permanently stored on phones or servers," it advertises online. "Messages are heavily encrypted and not accessible to anyone, even us."
CNBC pointed out that "Dust was also the app reportedly used between longtime Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen and Felix Sater."
Sater, a real estate developer, was allegedly the intermediary who connected Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen to Kremlin representatives to discuss building a Trump Tower in Moscow in exchange for lifting sanctions against Russia if Trump became president. The supposed plan ultimately fell apart, and Cohen is currently under criminal investigation.
A federal judge will decide whether to revoke or revise Manafort's bail on June 15.