The lack of an official White House notation of any calls placed to or by Trump for 457 minutes on Jan. 6, 2021 – from 11:17 a.m. to 6:54 p.m. – means the committee has no record of his phone conversations as his supporters descended on the Capitol, battled overwhelmed police and forcibly entered the building, prompting lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence to flee for safety.
The 11 pages of records, which consist of the president’s official daily diary and the White House switchboard call logs, were turned over by the National Archives earlier this year to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.
The records show that Trump was active on the phone for part of the day, documenting conversations that he had with at least eight people in the morning and 11 people that evening. The seven-hour gap also stands in stark contrast to the extensive public reporting about phone conversations he had with allies during the attack, such as a call Trump made to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) — seeking to talk to Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) — and a phone conversation he had with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
The House panel is now investigating whether Trump communicated that day through backchannels, phones of aides or personal disposable phones, known as “burner phones,” according to two people with knowledge of the probe, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information. The committee is also scrutinizing whether it received the full logs from that day.
One lawmaker on the panel said the committee is investigating a “possible coverup” of the official White House record from that day. Another person close to the committee said the large gap in the records is of “intense interest” to some lawmakers on the committee, many of whom have reviewed copies of the documents. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal committee deliberations.
The records show that former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon – who said on his Jan. 5 podcast that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow” – spoke with Trump twice on Jan. 6. In a call that morning, Bannon urged Trump to continue to pressure Pence to block congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, according to people familiar with the exchange.
Trump was known for using different phones when he was in the White House, according to people familiar with his activities. Occasionally, when he made outbound calls, the number would show up as the White House switchboard’s number, according to a former Trump Cabinet official. Other times, he would call from different numbers – or no number would appear on the recipient’s phone, the official said.
A spokesman for the committee declined to comment.
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 spokeswoman said that Trump had nothing to do with the records and had assumed any and all of his phone calls were recorded and preserved.
In a recent court filing, the Jan. 6 committee asserted it has “a good-faith basis for concluding that the President and members of his Campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States” and obstruct the counting of electoral votes by Congress.
A federal judge said in a ruling Monday that Trump “more likely than not” committed a federal crime in trying to obstruct the congressional count of electoral college votes on Jan. 6. The ruling was regarding emails that conservative lawyer John Eastman, a Trump ally, had resisted turning over to the Jan. 6 committee.
A Trump spokesman called the ruling “absurd and baseless.”
Five of the pages in the White House records obtained by the House committee are titled “THE DAILY DIARY OF PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP” and detail some of Trump’s phone calls and movements on Jan. 6. The remaining six pages are titled “PRESIDENTIAL CALL LOG” and have information provided by the White House switchboard and aides, including phone numbers and notes on the time and duration of some calls.
Those records were given to the committee by the National Archives earlier this year after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s request for the court to block the committee from obtaining White House documents from Jan. 6.
The Presidential Records Act requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties. The National Archives website states the presidential diary should be a “chronological record of the President’s movements, phone calls, trips” and meetings.
In January, The Post first reported that some of the Trump White House records turned over to the committee were potentially incomplete, including records that had been ripped up and taped back together. The New York Times first reported in February on the committee’s discovery of gaps in the White House phone logs from Jan. 6, but it did not specify when or for how long on that day. CNN first reported that “several hours” in Trump’s records provided to the committee lacked any notation of phone calls.
The documents obtained by the committee show Trump having several previously unreported exchanges on Jan. 6, including brief calls with Bannon and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani that morning, before Trump had a final call with Pence, in which the vice president told him he was not going to block Congress from formalizing Biden’s victory. The call to the vice president was part of Trump’s attempt to put into motion a plan, advocated by Bannon and outlined in a memo written by conservative lawyer John Eastman, that would enable Trump to hold on to the presidency, as first reported in the book “Peril.”
According to White House records, Bannon and Trump spoke at 8:37 a.m. on Jan. 6. Trump spoke with Giuliani around 8:45 a.m. At 8:56 a.m., Trump asked the White House switchboard to return a call from chief of staff Mark Meadows. Then, at 9:02 a.m., Trump asked the operator to place a call to Pence. The operator informed him that a message was left for the vice president.
Bannon’s first Jan. 6 call with Trump lasted for about one minute, according to the documents. During that conversation, Bannon asked Trump whether Pence was coming over for a breakfast meeting, according to two people familiar with the exchange. Bannon hoped Trump could pressure the vice president over breakfast to agree to thwart the congressional certification of Biden’s victory, the people said.
But Trump told Bannon that Pence was not scheduled to come to the White House following a heated meeting Trump and Pence had the previous evening, Jan. 5, in the Oval Office. Bannon quickly pressed Trump that he needed to call Pence and tell him again to hold off on doing anything that would enable certification. Trump agreed, the people said.
According to the White House phone logs, Bannon and Trump spoke again late on Jan. 6 in a call that began at 10:19 p.m. and ended at 10:26 p.m.
Bannon declined to comment through a representative.
Bannon, a central player in a group of Trump allies who met at the Willard hotel near the White House on Jan. 5 to discuss their strategy for Jan. 6, was indicted last year by the Justice Department for refusing to cooperate with the House committee, which is seeking more documents and testimony about his conversations with Trump.
Trump’s final call with Pence is not listed in the call log, even though multiple people close to both men said that call occurred sometime in the late morning before Trump headed to the “Save America” rally on the Ellipse.
During their conversation, Pence told Trump, “When I go to the Capitol, I’ll do my job” and not block Biden’s certification, enraging Trump, according to “Peril.”
Trump said, “Mike you can do this. I’m counting on you to do it. If you don’t do it, I picked the wrong man four years ago,” he added, according to the book. “You’re going to wimp out!”
Pence later released a letter saying he did not, as vice president, have “unilateral authority to decide presidential contests,” and said he would “keep the oath” he made when he was sworn into office.
The White House logs also show that Trump had conversations on Jan. 6 with election lawyers and White House officials, as well as outside allies such as then-senator David Perdue (R-Ga.), conservative commentator William J. Bennett and Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Hannity and Perdue did not respond to requests for comment. Bennett, in a brief interview on Tuesday, said he did not recall the conversation.
According to the documents, Trump spoke with other confidants and political advisers that morning ahead of the rally. At 8:34 a.m., he spoke with Kurt Olsen, who was advising Trump on legal challenges to the election.
Trump then placed calls to Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.), the Republican leader, and Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.), but it is unclear whether he reached them, according to the documents. A McConnell aide said Monday that McConnell declined Trump’s call. Hawley, a Trump ally, was the first senator to declare he would object to the certification, a decision that sparked other GOP senators to say they too would object.
The records show that Trump had a 10-minute call starting at 9:24 a.m. with Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican who worked closely with the Trump White House and was a key figure in pushing fellow GOP lawmakers to object to the certification of Biden’s election.
Jordan has declined to cooperate with the House committee. The 10-minute call Trump had with Jordan was first reported by CNN.
Giuliani and Trump spoke on Jan. 6 at 9:41 a.m. for six minutes, and at 8:39 p.m. for nine minutes, according to the White House logs. According to the documents, Giuliani called from different phone numbers.
Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller – who told Fox News in December 2020 that an “alternate slate of electors in the contested states is going to vote” – spoke with Trump for 26 minutes on the morning of Jan. 6, the records show. That call started at 9:52 a.m. and ended at 10:18 a.m.
Miller did not respond to a request for comment.
At 11:17 a.m., the White House daily diary states, “The President talked on a phone call to an unidentified person.” That vague call listing, with no notes on duration, is the last official record of a phone conversation that Trump had until the evening of Jan. 6.
The records of Trump’s activity throughout the day are very limited. The daily diary notes that he addressed supporters at a rally at the Ellipse midday and returned to the south grounds of the White House at 1:19 p.m.
“The President met with his Valet,” the records note of Trump’s activity at 1:21 p.m. on Jan. 6.
Trump’s supporters breached the Capitol building shortly after 2 p.m.
The next documented event in the president’s diary comes at 4:03 p.m., when “The President went to the Rose Garden” to record, for four minutes, a video message for the pro-Trump mob that had stormed the Capitol. The video, posted on Twitter at 4:17 p.m., begins with Trump falsely claiming the 2020 election was stolen, then asks the rioters to “go home.” He added, “We love you. You’re very special.”
“The President returned to the Oval Office” at 4:07 p.m., the records state. The next listed action comes at 6:27 p.m.: “The President went to the Second Floor Residence.”
According to the logs, Trump made his first phone call in more than seven hours at 6:54 p.m., when he instructed the operator to call aide Daniel Scavino Jr.
At 7:01 p.m., the records show, Trump spoke with Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, for six minutes, and later spoke with press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
At 9:23 p.m., Trump spoke with political adviser Jason Miller for 18 minutes. Miller has engaged with the committee and sat for a deposition, parts of which were excerpted in the committee’s filing alleging a criminal conspiracy was advanced by Trump and his allies.
Scavino could not be reached for comment. Cipollone and McEnany did not respond to requests for comment. Miller did not respond to a request for comment.
That night, Trump also spoke with lawyers supporting his election fight, such as former North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice Mark Martin and Cleta Mitchell, a veteran conservative Washington attorney who worked closely with Trump on contesting Biden’s victory in Georgia, according to the records.
His final listed call came at 11:23 p.m. and lasted 17 minutes. It was with John McEntee, then the director of presidential personnel.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court, in an unsigned order, rejected Trump’s request to block the release of some White House records, which have been stored by the National Archives, to the committee. The Supreme Court’s order in January included a dissent from Justice Clarence Thomas.
The messages, which do not directly reference Justice Thomas or the Supreme Court, show how Ginni Thomas used her access to Trump’s inner circle to promote and seek to guide the president’s strategy to overturn the election results – and how receptive and grateful Meadows said he was to receive her advice. Justice Thomas and Ginni Thomas have not responded to multiple requests for comment. She has long maintained that there is no conflict of interest between her activism and her husband’s work.
Claire McMullen contributed to this report.