Records Show 7-Hour Gap in Trump Phone Calls on Jan. 6 as Rioters Overtook Capitol: Report

Jan. 6 Capitol Riots
Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Getty

House Jan. 6 committee investigating "possible cover-up" of records, with unexplained gap of seven hours as Capitol riots took place, according to joint report by CBS News and The Washington Post.

The House committee probing the Jan. 6 Capitol riots is investigating a "possible cover-up" of  Donald Trump’s phone logs from that violent day, which show an unexplained gap of seven hours and 37 minutes as the president's supporters invaded the country's seat of government. 

CBS News and The Washington Post jointly reported that documents obtained by the news outlets showed the House records surrendered to the committee had no records of any calls placed by Trump on Jan. 6 from 11:17 a.m. to 6:54 p.m., more than seven hours during which Trump supporters, some carrying weapons, battled overwhelmed police and forced their way into the Capitol, forcing Congress members and Vice President Mike Pence to flee for safety.

The documents said Trump’s diary shows an entry at 11:17 a.m. when he “talked on a phone call to an unidentified person”. The next entry is 457 minutes later – when Trump asked the White House switchboard to place a call to his communications chief, Dan Scavino.

The 11 pages of records consisted of the president’s official diary and the White House switchboard call logs, and were turned over by the National Archives earlier this year to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, the outlets reported.

The House panel is now investigating whether Trump spoke that day through backchannels, including the phones of aides or personal disposable phones, known as "burner phones," according to two people with knowledge of the probe, CBS and the Post reported. The committee is also probing whether it received the full log from that day, the news agencies said.

In a statement Monday night, Trump said, "I have no idea what a burner phone is, to the best of my knowledge I have never even heard the term."

A Trump spokesperson said that Trump had nothing to do with the records and had assumed his phone calls were recorded and preserved.

The lack of documented phone calls stands in stark contrast to extensive reporting about phone conversations Trump had with allies during the attack, including a call made to Republican House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy during the violence.

“I was very clear with the president when I called him,” McCarthy told CBS’s Norah O’Donnell in an interview during the attack. “This has to stop, and he has to go to the American public and tell them to stop this.”

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah has also publicly said he took a phone call from Trump as Capitol police were evacuating lawmakers, who were in the middle of certifying the 2020 election results that showed Democrat Joe Biden had won the presidential vote. 

A bipartisan Senate report connected seven deaths to the Jan. 6 violence. More than 100 law enforcement officers were injured on that day.

Trump’s missing phone logs and Richard Nixon’s Watergate cover-up drew comparisons. Both were reported by The Post's Bob Woodward, who worked with CBS chief election and campaign correspondent Robert Costa in obtaining the Trump documents.

Bill Kristol, editor-at-large of an anti-Trump conservative website called The Bulwark, compared the two presidents’ remarks, writing: “‘I have never obstructed justice … I am not a crook.’ – Richard M Nixon, Nov 17, 1973. ‘I have no idea what a burner phone is …” – Donald J Trump, March 29 2022.’ ”

It hasn't been a good week for Trump and his allies.

On Monday, a judge ruled that Trump appeared to have committed multiple felonies as he falsely claimed the election was "stolen" and tried to return himself to power. Trump attorney John Eastman was ordered to turn over hundreds of emails to the House committee.

“Based on the evidence, the court finds that it is more likely than not that President Trump and Dr. Eastman dishonestly conspired to obstruct the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021,” ruled Judge David Carter.

Also on Monday, the House committee unanimously voted to recommend that former Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino be held in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with subpoenas. 

"In short: these two men played key roles in the ex-President's efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election," said committee chair Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi. "The Select Committee subpoenaed them for records and testimony to learn more about their roles and what they knew."

Scavino "strung us along for months before making it clear that he believes he's above the law," Thompson said. Navarro shared "relevant details on TV and podcasts in his own book," but "stonewalled us," Thompson said.

Vice chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming, one of two Republicans on the committee, said Monday the panel has "already defeated President Trump's effort to hide certain White House records behind a shield of Executive Privilege." The same "conclusion should apply to Mr. Scavino and Mr. Navarro," she said.

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