Did Trump Use a Burner Phone? January 6 Committee Probe Continues
As the House Select committee continues investigating the events of January 6, 2021, one seven-hour period of time on that day remains in question. The committee members have examined phone records, and the gap in communication has prompted some to question whether President Trump used a burner phone.
National Archives records that were turned over to the committee show that the former president was active on the phone for parts of that day, CBS News reported. A minimum of eight people in the morning and 11 people in the evening had contact with him. Trump has denied using a burner phone or even knowing what one is.
The Jan. 6 committee is investigating a possible conspiracy.
The Jan. 6 committee has to determine whether or not Trump and his supporters illegally conspired to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The committee is investigating the “facts, circumstances, and causes” of the attacks on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
A key part of the committee’s probe is to examine phone records, which indicate conversations and text threads between the former president and his allies.
For example, text messages to Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, reveal that numerous Trump supporters urged him to call off the violence. Records also show that Trump spoke to former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon that day as well. The day before the riot, Bannon warned on his podcast that “all hell is going to break loose.”
The 7+ hour gap in phone records raises suspicion.
The gap of seven hours and 37 minutes took place during the main portion of the day on Jan. 6. During that time, from 11:17 a.m. ET until 6:54 p.m. ET, violent protesters forced their way past Capitol police and into legislators’ offices. Many lawmakers were forced to flee to safety, and several people died.
As the committee examines all of the relevant records and communication from Trump to his allies, they're considering whether to make a criminal referral to the Department of Justice about his role in the Jan. 6 events.
Trump said that he doesn't have any knowledge of a burner phone.
In an evening statement on March 28, Trump claimed ignorance and innocence of any use of so-called burner phones. “I have no idea what a burner phone is, to the best of my knowledge I have never even heard the term,” Trump claimed.
A spokesperson for Trump also stated that the former president assumed all phone calls were recorded and preserved, and that he had nothing to do with the records.
The violence in the Capitol erupted soon after 2 p.m. ET on January 6, 2021, right in the midst of the seven-hour gap in official White House phone records.
As The Washington Post reported on March 29, the committee is considering whether the president and his top aides may have used burner phones, which are phones that the user destroys immediately after use to avoid implications. The committee will also determine if Trump used aides’ phones or communicated through some kind of backchannels.