We learned last month that the Jan. 6 committee found gaps in the White House call logs on the day of the Capitol riot, as well as that those gaps include times the committee knows former President Trump was on the phone. We learned on Tuesday that those “gaps” were more like one huge gap that spans … just about the entire day.
The Washington Post and CBS News have reported that the logs turned over to the committee show a gap in Trump’s phone logs that spans seven hours and thirty-seven minutes, a period of time that includes that attack on the Capitol. The Jan. 6 committee has been intensely interested in Trump’s communications as the attack was unfolding, and is now investigating a “possibly coverup,” according to a member who spoke to the Post.
The dark period begins at 11:17 a.m. and ends at 6:54 p.m. Trump was very much on the phone during this period, during which a mob including his supporters violently stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election results, but the White House made no record of these calls — or it did and they’re missing. The records do show Trump making calls before 11:17 in the morning — including to Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon — and after 6:54 in the evening, including another call to Bannon.
Guiliani and Bannon were both present at the now-infamous Jan. 5 meeting at the Willard hotel, the “command center” where Trump’s top allies plotted how to overturn the election results. Bannon was charged with contempt of Congress last year for refusing to cooperate with the committee. Bannon co-authored a plan to block the Electoral College vote count with Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro, whom the committee on Monday night voted to hold in contempt. Navarro told Rolling Stone he communicated with Trump about election fraud following the election.
The committee has also been interested in the use of burner phones by people in Trump’s orbit. Rolling Stone reported in November that some of the organizers of the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the Capitol riot used burner phones for their “high level” communications with Trump’s team — including Trump’s family and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Rolling Stone reported earlier this month that Meadows was part of an effort to orchestrate Trump supporters marching to the Capitol while making “it look like they went down there on their own.”
Robert Costa of CBS News reported later on Tuesday that former National Security Adviser John Bolton said he recalls Trump using the term “burner phones” on multiple occasions, and that Trump was aware of the term’s meaning. “Bolton also said he and Trump have spoken about how people have used ‘burner phones’ to avoid having their calls scrutinized,” Costa added.
The degree to which Trump may have been aware of any Jan. 6 planning is unclear, but it’s been widely reported that he was on the phone during the attack, including as the Post notes, to several members of Congress. The extent of those conversations is also unclear. The committee now wants to know if that was by design.
This post has been updated.