Although the call was not mentioned in the president’s diary or in the presidential invitation, its existence was confirmed by a number of sources with Trump and Pence at the time, including former aides who testified before the House Select Committee investigating the U.S. Capitol attack.
The mystery of the seven-hour break has sparked furious speculation as to why the calls went missing. This includes allegations that Trump uses “burner phones” (which he denies) or that records were deliberately suppressed.
But the gap may have a less mysterious explanation.
According to several sources familiar with Trump’s telephone behavior and the White House switchboard records, the January 6 record reflects Trump’s regular telephone habits. He mainly made calls through the switchboard when he was in the apartment, but rarely used it when he was in the Oval Office. On January 6, 2021, sources said it was not uncommon for Trump not to record calls from the Oval Office because employees would usually make direct calls to him on landlines or cell phones. Those calls will not be mentioned on the switchboard record.
A source familiar with the matter said that six pages of the White House Switchboard records were completed on January 6, 2021, based on an official review of the White House records. There are no missing pages and the seven-hour interval can be explained by White House landlines, White House cell phones, and personal cell phones that do not go through the switchboard.
Missed calls also underscore the local one: the imperfect and primitive system that monitors the president’s communications.
It is certainly not suitable for the era of cell phones and text messages or for the president, who is well known for his efforts to bypass official communication channels.
Ignoring call log
There may be various reasons explaining the gap in the call log.
Another explanation is that Trump aides made direct calls from the Oval Office, excluding the switchboard.
A former White House employee who served in the Obama administration told CNN that if then-President Barack Obama wanted to make a call to someone from the Oval Office, he would usually ask an aide sitting nearby to dial that person. The aide then picks up the number and presses the transfer to connect the caller with the president.
The former employee said the call would not go through the White House switchboard, so it would not be recorded on the White House switchboard record.
Where he was when Trump made some calls seems to be another factor. All calls from the January 6 record indicate that they were made from the White House’s home, and that Trump relied on the switchboard to make those calls. Missed calls seem to begin when the diary mentions that Trump moved from the home to the Oval Office.
According to several sources, Trump often used the switchboard while in a private home. But while he was in the Oval Office, the former president would often make aides sitting outside his office to phone some lawmakers or his allies.
Two former Trump officials believe this, and the chaotic nature of the West Wing on Jan. 6 also led to gaps in call records.
Calls should also be documented in the President’s daily diary, compiled by a detailed archivist for the White House. While this should include “instant moments like employee member drop-ins and phone calls”, Diarist’s account is as good as the information he or she receives from the president’s staff.
The former Obama employee also acknowledged that the process depends on how meticulous the assistants working in a reputable organization and other administrations are or what advice is given to them.
No explanation has yet been given as to why the calls made during the few hours Trump was in the Oval Office were not documented in the President’s diary.
Several sources have described the registration as generally confusing during the Trump administration. Those sources, and witnesses who testified as part of an earlier congressional hearing into the former president’s conduct, described Trump as a “deep suspect” in the White House’s switchboard, and he elaborated on various ways to avoid having records of certain phone calls.
The Senate intelligence report for 2020 includes testimonies from former aides that Trump continued to use his bodyguard Keith Schiller’s cell phone because advisers did not want to know what they were saying to Republican activist Roger Stone.
A former Trump official told CNN that “Trump hated people for knowing who he was talking to from home the night he passed through Switchboard.”
When John Kelly was Trump’s chief executive, he monitored the switchboard to see who Trump was talking to. If he does not want it to be displayed on the switchboard call log, Trump will often stop the call and call him back on his cell phone.
Sources said that when Mark Meadows took over as chief executive, he restricted the number of White House officials accessing call logs and restricting the group to a limited number of senior aides.
Filling in the blanks
Despite the gaps in the call logs, the House selection panel relied on the testimonies of witnesses, additional documents, and phone records obtained through Sapona.
This is especially true for the missed call to Pence. That call is a key point in House’s argument that Trump is involved in criminal activity because he pressured Pence to prevent Congress from certifying the election. No charges have been laid against Trump.
Benz’s former national security adviser, Keith Kellogg, described the call in his testimony before the committee earlier this year, telling investigators that he and other top aides were in the Oval Office with Trump when it happened. He said he could only listen to what Trump said and could not hear Pence’s answers.
Kellogg described the conversation in a panel letter to Trump’s daughter Ivanka in late January, asking her to appear before the panel and co-operate with the investigation.
“As January 6 approached, President Trump made several attempts to persuade Vice President Pence to participate in his program. One of the President’s discussions took place over the phone on the morning of January 6,” the letter said.
“You were in the Oval Office and noticed at least one side of that phone conversation. During that call, General Keith Kellogg was in the Oval Office and testified about that discussion,” it added.
Last month, CNN reported that Ivanka Trump was volunteering to appear before the panel for an interview. Others who witnessed the call have already testified.
Team members said witness testimony was not the only way to fill in some of the gaps in official records, such as the White House records and the daily diary.
“We are basically a triangle from different angles, until January 6 and we get a complete picture of what happened that day,” Murphy added.
Mississippi Democrat Rep. Benny Thompson, chairman of the select committee, told CNN on Wednesday that the group had not received any Vice Presidential telephone records from the National Archives.
But earlier this month, Thompson told CNN that the group had “begun to receive” the vice president’s record, without mentioning anything. The archives have replaced part of the Vice President’s record with documents describing the Vice President’s invitations to the White House.
An invitation was mentioned in the President’s diary, though not on the invitation record that day.
The document obtained by the House is the personal schedule of the President, and this is Sen. Shows handwritten notes to catch phone calls with Kelly Lofler from 11: 17-11: 20am and with “VPOTUS” on January 6 at 11:20am. , 2021.
In a presidential diary handed to the committee, it was shown that Trump made a “phone call to an unidentified person” at 11:17 a.m. Jan. 6, but did not mention the 11:20 a.m. call. The White House call record did not reflect any conversation.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.