Trump’s Phone Habits Complicate Jan. 6 Investigation

Pence responds to Trump on his right to nullify the 2020 election 1:50

(WABNEWS) — In Donald Trump’s White House, phones were a prized commodity. The then-president loved talking to everyone, a former White House aide said.

“He was taking calls from all over the world,” the adviser said, even interrupting national security briefings to make and receive calls.

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The phone was his lifeline, according to former Trump administration officials.

And the former president’s phone habits have become a problem for investigators investigating the violent takeover of January 6.

That’s because the House select committee investigating the US Capitol riots uncovered a Unusual breach in official Trump White House phone record for multiple hours, according to sources familiar with the House investigation, from returning to the White House after speaking to supporters on the Ellipse on Jan. 6, 2021, to speaking to the nation via video from the Garden of Las Vegas. roses And this has prompted investigators to look elsewhere: into other people’s cellphones and perhaps even Trump’s own, though the commission has so far declined to take that awkward step.

Trump’s calls

The commission’s difficulty in tracking who Trump spoke to — and when — stems from his unorthodox phone habits while in office: According to multiple former administration sources, the former president often used other people’s phones (or multiple phones of his own). , which they sometimes went in and out of use) to communicate with their supporters, and even with their family.

One former staffer blamed this custom on refusing to have someone listen in on his calls (something that, in the White House, is hard for a president to avoid if he’s calling from a desk phone). Because of this, he often took the cell phone of a nearby aide or even a Secret Service agent to make the calls.

Case in point: After the Stormy Daniels story broke in 2018, Trump was out on the golf course trying to track down his wife, Melanie Trump, from her phone, and she wasn’t answering it, according to a knowledgeable source. So she turned to a Secret Service agent and used the agent’s phone to try to locate her. So, the first lady answered. According to this source, the agent did not like her phone being used in this way.

As reported by WABNEWS, sources familiar with the investigation have not drawn any conclusions about the large gap in phone records so far. Trump may have decided not to make or receive calls, commission sources admit. There is also the possibility that the National Archives find more records – on other people’s phones – to explain the loopholes.

Multiple sources told WABNEWS that the Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, was a common channel for Trump talks, having an office in the outer Oval “within walking distance” of the president. One of the sources witnessed Scavino routinely handing over his phone to Trump to take calls. The source describes Scavino as the “key to almost everything” given his time with the then president. An attorney for Scavino declined to comment.

Scavino, according to this source, had an official phone number and other staff.

He was subpoenaed by the commission on January 6 and sued Verizon over the commission’s subpoena for his phone records. The lawsuit – which is still in its initial phase – has temporarily prevented the telephone company from giving the Chamber its call records and subscriber information.

Presidential documents recovered at Trump residence in Florida 1:45

According to former advisers, people used to communicate with Trump by calling the staff around him. Some callers, aides say, found it easier to communicate through the chief of staff Mark Meadows or even of the daughter Ivanka Trump. Trump would be offered a call from an ally on hold, and he would either take it or wave to them with the back of his hand.

“He liked to talk to people he agreed with,” said another adviser.

Trump Presidency Records

In addition, Trump did not often bring his own personal mobile phone to the Oval Office, according to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who tried to reach him on multiple occasions as the riots raged.

“First, I called his secretary. He didn’t answer the phone. His voicemail went off. Then I called his trusted person and he didn’t answer the phone. Then I called the White House switchboard and asked to be put through to him. They said he wasn’t available. And so I called his personal cell phone,” said Christie to WABNEWS’s Dana Bash in an interview last year. “I didn’t know where she was. I tried to call her mobile and got voicemail.”

Trump never returned Christie’s call that day, the former governor told Bash.

Trump did speak to him. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, during the assault on the Capitol, although there was no record of it in the official call logs. A call early that morning with the Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohiofirst reported by WABNEWS, was noted in the official record.

As a way of gauging the unprecedentedness of Trump’s presidential behavior on the phone — and how he ran the White House in general — one former senior White House official describes a chaotic first process with “almost no record of anything.”

“In fact,” says this former official, “it never occurred to anyone to keep a record of the people who entered and left the Oval Office.”

According to another former White House official, “for large portions, at least, and most likely throughout the Trump presidency, there are no records of visitors to the Oval Office.” Keeping such records is not mandatory, but had become the norm under past governments.

When General John Kelly became Trump’s chief of staff in July 2017, he tried to clean up the messy phone process inside the White House, and his boss hated him, according to a former White House official. Kelly tried to keep call logs and screen Trump’s calls, but the president chafed at the restrictions because he didn’t want Kelly to know who he was talking to, the former official said.

By comparison, one knowledgeable source says that in the previous governmentAll calls were made through official White House channels: through the residence, the switchboard, the Situation Room, and the signal operator. There was no way around the strict restrictions.

“It just didn’t happen,” the source said. “It couldn’t be avoided.” And most calls were by appointment.

Also, according to the source, then-President Barack Obama would never have been allowed to use the phone of a Secret Service aide or agent to make calls. “Heavens no,” the source said.

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