Jan. 6 panel misses about 8 hours of phone calls from Trump
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill has identified a discrepancy of about 8 hours in official White House recordings of President Donald Trump’s phone calls as the violence unfolded. and that his followers were storming the building, according to two people familiar with the probe.
The gap extends from just after 11 a.m. to around 7 p.m. on January 6, 2021 and involves phone calls to the White House, according to one of the people. Both spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.
The committee is investigating the gap in the White House’s official journal, which includes the switchboard and a daily account of the president’s activities. But that doesn’t mean the panel ignores what Trump was doing at the time.
The House panel made broad requests for separate cellphone recordings and spoke to more than 800 witnesses, including many aides who spent the day with Trump. The committee also has thousands of text messages from the cellphone of Mark Meadows, who was then Trump’s chief of staff.
The committee’s effort to piece together Trump’s day as his supporters stormed into the Capitol underscores the challenge his habitual avoidance of records laws poses — not just for historians of his tumultuous four years, but for the panel. official, who intends to capture the full story of the former president’s attempt to overturn the election results in hearings and reports later this year.
The panel focused on what the president was doing at the White House as hundreds of his supporters beat police, broke into the Capitol and disrupted certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory. of 2020. The missing recordings raise the question of whether Trump deliberately bypassed official channels to avoid the recordings.
Trump was known to use other people’s cellphones to make calls, as well as his own. He often bypassed the White House switchboard, making calls directly, according to a former aide who requested anonymity to discuss the private calls. In fact, it’s not uncommon for presidential calls to go through other people.
It’s unclear whether the committee obtained cellphone records linked to Trump after issuing a sweeping records retention order in August to nearly three dozen telecommunications and social media companies. Those included in that request included Trump, members of his family and several of his Republican allies in Congress.
The committee also continues to receive documents from the National Archives and other sources, which may yield additional information and help produce a complete picture of the president’s communications.
During the eight hours of January 6, Trump addressed a huge crowd of supporters at the nearby Ellipse, repeated lies about his electoral defeat and told them to march to the Capitol, raise their voices and to “fight like hell”. He then returned to the White House and saw the crowd storming into the Capitol. More than 700 people have been arrested in the violence.
Many of Trump’s calls that day are already public knowledge. He spoke to Vice President Mike Pence between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., according to a person familiar with the conversation, as he had lobbied Pence publicly and privately to oppose it while presiding over the certification. He also spoke with several GOP members of the House and Senate as his allies in Congress prepared to challenge the official vote count.
He had a tense conversation with Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy, who asked him to call the crowd back, according to Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state, who shared McCarthy’s account shortly after the ‘insurrection. Trump responded that the rioters must be “more upset about the election than you are”, according to Herrera Beutler.
Trump also spoke to Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, among other lawmakers. Tuberville said he spoke to the president during the evacuation of the Senate. Utah Sen. Mike Lee said Trump accidentally called him while trying to reach Tuberville.
The White House newspaper shows calls made by Trump prior to this time as he prepared to speak at the rally. That log shows calls with his former aide Steve Bannon, conservative commentator William Bennett and Fox News‘ Sean Hannity, according to one of the people familiar with the records.
The discrepancy in phone records had previously been reported by the AP. The exact length of the gap was first reported by The Washington Post.
Trump had no immediate comment on Tuesday, but he has already disparaged the investigation and sued to halt record production.
Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.
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