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Special Counsel Robert Mueller has asked witnesses in the Russia probe to turn over their personal mobile phones so his team can scrutinize encrypted apps – and reports say the witnesses are complying to avoid being subpoenaed.

The special counsel's request, which CNBC said seems to be aimed at encrypted messages via Signal, WhatsApp, Confide and Dust, comes shortly after Mueller sought to get former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort's bail revoked after it was discovered that he pressured witnesses – through multiple means, including WhatsApp and Telegram messages – to commit perjury.

Witnesses are apparently complying, which experts said is not unusual. "There's nothing wrong with asking people to voluntarily provide information to the FBI for whatever investigation," CNBC cited Michael German, a retired FBI agent and current fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice's Liberty and National Security Program, as saying. "And to the extent that that's a voluntary action is where the rub is."