Trump hid phone call on January 6 from official log
On the day of the Capitol attack, Trump made a phone call to a Republican senator that was omitted from the official call log.
According to two people familiar with the situation, Donald Trump used an official White House phone to make at least one call during the Capitol attack of January 6 last year, which should have been included in the internal presidential call log from that day but was not.
The insurrection left seven people dead and more than 100 officers injured, including four officers who later committed suicide. More than 700 persons have been charged as a result of the investigation.
According to the sources, the former president dialed the phone number of a Republican senator, Mike Lee, with the number 202-395-0000, a placeholder number that appears when a call is inbound from a number of White House department phones.
The number belongs to an official White House phone, and the call was placed by Trump himself, implying that it should have been documented in the internal presidential call log provided to the House select committee investigating the Capitol incident.
The Washington Post and CBS both reported Trump's call to Lee, as well as its deletion from the call log, at the time. However, the fact that the call originated from an official White House phone, which had not previously been revealed, increases the possibility of tampering or deletion by Trump White House employees.
It also looks to be the Trump White House's most egregious breach of the Presidential Records Act – the legislation that requires the retention of White House records relevant to a president's official duties – involving January 6 records to date.
According to call detail records examined by The Guardian and corroborated by sources, Trump contacted Lee at 2.26 pm on January 6 using the official 202-395-0000 White House number.
The call was remarkable because Trump called Lee incorrectly, believing it was the number for Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville. Lee handed the phone to Tuberville, who informed Trump that Vice President Mike Pence had just been escorted out of the Senate chamber as protestors rushed the Capitol.
However, Trump's call to Lee was not documented in either the presidential daily diary or the presidential call log - an issue since, although entries in the daily diary are discretionary, the call log is not, according to many current and former White House employees.
According to authorities, the presidential daily journal is a retrospective account of the president's day written by aides in the Oval Office who have some power in determining whether a specific occurrence was noteworthy enough to deserve inclusion.
However, the presidential call log, which is normally compiled from data gathered when calls are placed by White House operators, is intended to provide a thorough record of all incoming and outgoing conversations involving the president through White House channels, according to officials.
Because Trump's call to Lee was routed through an official White House phone with a 202-395 prefix — either a landline in the West Wing, the White House residence, or a "work" cellphone – the specifics of that conversation should have been on the call log.
The only time a call may not be included on the unclassified presidential call log, according to authorities, is if the call was classified, which seems improbable in the case of the call to Lee. According to the authorities, the absence of Trump's call to Lee indicates a major break in protocol and possibly manipulation.
It was unclear how a Trump White House staffer might confuse or tamper with the presidential call record, or who would have the power to do so.
According to authorities, Trump's conversations on January 6 may not have been recorded in the presidential call log if he used his personal phone or the cellphones of aides, and Trump occasionally contacted individuals using the cellphone of his then-White House deputy chief of staff, Dan Scavino.
However, numerous current and past White House officials have stated that a copy of the call log, together with the president's daily itinerary and the presidential line-by-line document, may be supplied to Oval Office operations to assist with the compilation of the presidential daily journal.
Because the presidential daily journal and phone log require permission by a senior White House official before being transmitted to the White House office of records management, the officials said, this might lead to a situation in which records are subject to manipulation.
And, as of January 6, two former Trump White House employees claimed there was still room for political influence in data preservation, owing to the fact that no White House staff secretary had been formally named since Derek Lyons' departure on December 18.
The White House Communications Agency has also been subject to political pressure, as the Select Committee disclosed last year when it discovered evidence that the agency issued a letter designed to urge states to decertify Joe Biden's election victory.
Trump's call to Lee was not the only one that went missing over a seven-hour period in the presidential call record that day. As the Capitol attack proceeded, Trump also spoke with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Last year has been a rough ride for former President Donald Trump. In a federal court filing, the House panel investigating the insurgency at the Capitol previewed some of its conclusions, and investigators indicated for the first time that they had enough evidence to suggest former President Donald Trump committed crimes.