Former President Donald Trump seems to want you to believe he took a phone detox during the most tumultuous hours of his presidency.
That’s according to newly revealed internal White House records which show a seven-hour and 37-minute gap in Trump’s phone logs on January 6, 2021, part of which occurred right as his most fervent supporters charged their way through the Capitol building.
The documents, obtained by former Watergate reporter Bob Woodward and Robert Costa for The Washington Post, reportedly included 11 pages of the former president’s daily diary and White House switchboard call logs. Those logs reportedly show Trump was active on his phone, documenting at least eight calls made in the morning. Suddenly, at 11:17 a.m Trump’s communications went dark. They’d stay that way until 6:54 p.m.
The National Archives reportedly turned over the document to the House committee investigating the January 6 riots earlier this year. According to the National Archives, the presidential diary revealed in these documents should make up a “a chronological record of the President’s movements, phone calls, trips, briefings, meetings, and activities.”
That lengthy call log gap appears, at the minimum, out of character for a president who made a name for himself as a prolific Tweeter and smartphone junkie.
“He [Trump] is a telephone addict,” Woodward said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday. “The idea that nothing would happen in the afternoon on the phone on January 6 is as unlikely as the sun not rising.”
The gap also defies previous reporting suggesting Trump may have made several calls with several prominent Republican lawmakers during that same time. That incongruity has led House Committee members to begin investigating whether or not Trump may have used his own personal device, or even a burner phone during those unaccounted for hours.
Trump’s response: what’s a burner phone anyways?
“I have no idea what a burner phone is,” Trump told Woodward and Costa in a statement on Monday. “To the best of my knowledge I have never even heard the term.” A spokesperson for Trump meanwhile said the former president had nothing to do with the records and said they assumed all of Trump’s official phones were recorded.
If you don’t exactly find that answer convincing, you’re not alone. One lawmaker involved with the committee told the Post they are looking into a “possible coverup” of White House documents on January 6. The committee members more generally are attempting to determine whether or not Trump and his associates illegally conspired to overturn the 2020 election results.
Gizmodo reached out to Trump for comment but had not heard back.
Trump’s cell phone or lack thereof was the subject of constant inquiry during his presidency. Officially, Trump has maintained that he only used one, government-issued phone during his presidency. That flies in the face of media reports, including this 2018 report from the New York Times, which claims Trump may have used up to three separate phones. (At the time, Trump blasted that article for being “sooo wrong.”
Earlier this week, CNN released a report citing former Trump Administration members who claimed Trump, as president, regularly used his aides’ phones as well as his, an unorthodox practice that makes tracking down exactly who he spoke to and when a pain in the ass for investigators. In some cases, the CNN report notes Trump would even make personal calls (including one to his wife following the first Stormy Daniels allegations) from a Secret Service agent’s phone. Other sources claimed Trump aide Dan Scavino regularly relinquished his phone to the president to make calls.
Aside from the call gap, the documents also shed interesting light on who the president did communicate with during the hours leading up to the riots. According to the Post, Trump had several calls with a former adviser and 2020 election result denier Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer at the time. The president also reportedly spoke with former Georgia Republican Senator David Perdue and Fox News host Sean Hannity on January 6.
Trump reportedly hopped on one last call with Vice President Mike Pence who told Trump he wouldn’t attempt to block Congress from certifying Biden’s electoral victory. Not long after extreme Trump supporters would get within shouting distance of the vice president.
“I was very skeptical of what the January 6 Committee could do, but they are delivering in a way I did not expect,” Woodward said.