Donald Trump used an official White House phone to make at least one call during the Capitol attack on January 6 last year that should have been in the internal presidential call log from that day, but was not familiar with the matter, according to two sources.
The former president called the phone of a Republican senator, Mike Lee, with a number registered as 202-395-0000, a placeholder number that appears when a call comes in from a number of White House phones, the sources said.
The number corresponds to an official White House phone, and the call was made by Donald Trump himself, meaning the call should have been entered in the internal presidential call log that was handed over to the selected House committee investigating the attack. investigated the Capitol.
Trump’s call to Lee was reported at the time by the Washington Post and CBS. But the call’s origin as coming from an official White House phone, which has not been previously reported, raises the prospect of tampering or removal by Trump White House officials.
It also appears to be arguably the most serious violation of the Presidential Records Act — the statute that mandates the retention of White House records pertaining to a president’s official duties — by the Trump White House regarding records from January 6 until now.
A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump called Lee at 2:26 p.m. on Jan. 6 via the official White House number 202-395-0000, according to details of the call reviewed by the Guardian and confirmed by the two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity to provide sensitive information. to discuss matters.
The call was notable because Trump accidentally called Lee because he believed it was the number of Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville. Lee turned the phone over to Tuberville, who told Trump that Mike Pence had just been removed from the Senate Chamber when rioters stormed the Capitol.
But Trump’s call to Lee was not recorded in the Presidential Daily Diary or the Presidential Call Log — a problem because while the Daily Diary entries are discretionary, according to several current and former White House officials, the call log is not. .
The Presidential Daily Diary is a retrospective record of the president’s day, produced by assistants in the Oval Office, who have some leverage in determining whether a particular event was significant enough to warrant its inclusion, officials said.
But the presidential call log, which is typically generated from data captured when calls are placed by White House operators, should be a comprehensive record of all incoming and outgoing calls involving the president through the channels of the presidential office. White House, officials said.
The fact that Trump’s call to Lee was routed through an official White House phone with a 202-395 prefix — either through a landline in the West Wing, the White House residence, or a “work” cell – means that details of that call should have been on the call log.
The only instance where a call might not show up in the unclassified presidential call log, officials said, would be if the call was classified, which seems unlikely in the case of the call to Lee. The absence of Trump’s appeal to Lee suggests a serious violation of protocol and possible manipulation, the officials said.
It wasn’t immediately clear how a Trump White House official would cover up or tamper with the presidential call log, or who would have the authority to carry out such manipulations.
Trump’s Jan. 6 calls may not have entered the presidential calls log if he had used his personal phone or aides’ cell phones, officials said, and Trump sometimes called people on his then-deputy chief of staff’s cell phone. of the White House, Dan Scavino.
But multiple current and former White House officials have noted that a copy of the call log — in addition to the president’s daily schedule and the presidential document per line — can be provided to Oval Office operations to help compile the daily presidential diary.
That could lead to a situation where records are vulnerable to tampering, as the presidential daily agenda and call log must be approved by a senior White House official before they can be sent to the White House’s office of records management, the statement said. officials.
And by the time of Jan. 6, two former Trump White House officials said there was room for political interference in document retention without a White House secretary being formally appointed after Derek Lyons’ departure on 18 December.
The White House communications agency has also not been immune to political influence, the select committee revealed last year, when evidence found the agency drafted a letter intended to pressure states to deny Joe Biden’s election victory. .
Trump’s call to Lee wasn’t the only call missing that day from an inexplicable seven-hour gap in the presidential call log. For example, Trump was also in touch with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy as the attack on the Capitol unfolded.
The presidential daily agenda and presidential call log were handed over to the selected committee by the National Archives after the Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch request by Trump to block the release of White House documents to the panel.