White House records from the day of last year’s Capitol riot reveal that then-President Donald Trump did not make or receive any calls on the executive mansion’s phone system for more than seven-and-a-half hours.
The records, which were turned over by the National Archives to the House select committee investigating the violence and obtained by the Washington Post and CBS News, show a gap from 11:17 a.m. to 6:54 p.m. — a period that covers the worst of that day’s violence, which forced the hours-long suspension of the joint session of Congress counting the 2020 Electoral College votes.
Twenty minutes after the start of Trump’s 11:17 a.m. call, which the records say was made to an “unidentified person,” the 45th president left the White House for the “Stop The Steal” rally which precipitated the riot. The records indicate Trump returned to the White House shortly after 1 p.m. and show no activity from the president between 1:21 p.m. and 4:03 p.m.
The gap in the White House records contrasts with public reports of calls made by Trump on that day.
In one instance, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), revealed that Trump accidentally called him believing he was reaching out to Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.).
“Moments after the proceedings in the Senate were halted by the Capitol Police, my phone rang,” Lee told Salt Lake Tribune reporter Bryan Schott in a text message. “The caller ID indicated that the call was coming from the White House. I thought it was Robert O’Brien, the president’s national security advisor, calling to update me on a question I had asked him about a security threat from Iran.
“To my great surprise, it was not Robert O’Brien, but President Trump on the other end of the line,” Lee added. The lawmaker went on to recall handing his phone to Tuberville, who spoke with Trump until police ordered the Senate chamber cleared.
Proceedings in the Senate and House were stopped shortly after 2 p.m. as rioters entered the Capitol.
During the attack, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told CBS News he had asked Trump to give a televised address calling off his supporters.
“I told him he needed to talk to the nation,” McCarthy said at the time. “I told him what was happening right then … I was very clear with the president when I called him: This has to stop, and he’s got to go to the American public and tell them to stop this.”
Given the lack of activity from the White House switchboard, the select committee is reportedly investigating whether Trump used the phones of aides or disposable “burner” phones to communicate on that day. One committee member told the Washington Post the panel is also investigating a “possible coverup” by the Trump White House.
Sources familiar with the 45th president’s activities told the outlet that during his presidency, Trump was known for using different phones and occasionally would call from different numbers.
“I have no idea what a burner phone is, to the best of my knowledge I have never even heard the term,” Trump said in a Monday night statement.
A spokeswoman for the former president noted that Trump had nothing to do with the compilation or provision of the records and had assumed all his calls were recorded and preserved.
News of the phone log gap comes one day after a California federal judge ruled Trump “more likely than not” attempted to illegally obstruct Congress on the day of the riot, citing his efforts to have then-Vice President Mike Pence throw out the results in several contested states.