At 2:26 PM on January 6 last year, Donald Trump received a call from the White House and called Mike Lee, a Republican Senator from Utah. Communication came at a very important time.
Thirty-seven minutes earlier, Washington police had announced riots. Minutes later, then-vice-president Mike Pence was expelled from the Senate Hall, where he presided over the congressional testimony of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 elections, and hid.
Fifteen minutes before Trump made the call, his supporters, urged by the incumbent president to “fight as hell” with what he falsely claimed were rigged elections, broke out of a window on the southern front of the Capitol and entered the heart of American democracy.
The uprising lasted on January 6.
However, when you look for the recorded details of the 2:26 pm Trump call that was made, as revealed by Guardian Hugo Lowell, on the official White House landline, they are nowhere to be found. Lee’s call was one of the unknown numbers Trump made during the mysterious 7 hour and 37 minute break that exists in the call logs – precisely within the timeframe of the Capitol attack.
These missing call logs, disclosed by the Washington Post and CBS News, raise some pressing questions – how did these records disappear? who carried out the excise duty? – but nothing more urgent than this: what Trump was trying to hide?
“Such a gap is not accidental. It’s not a coincidence, ”said Charlie Sykes, a columnist at Trump-reluctant conservative Bulwark. “There is no innocent explanation here – someone made the decision to tear the record at the crucial hours on January 6, and there must be a reason why.”
What Trump is trying to hide is at the heart of the House of Representatives committee’s investigation into the January 6 uprising. The former president consistently tries to block the flow of information to the committee – by putting pressure on the environment not to testify, tearing the documents apart before handing them over.
The stakes in the evidence dispute skyrocket this week when a federal judge ruled that Trump was “more than not … dishonestly conspiring to obstruct” Congress on Jan. 6. It would be a criminal act.
There was never any doubt that Trump inspired his supporters to descend to Washington on that fateful day, or that he encouraged them to protest in the spirit of the “big lie” that the elections had been stolen from him.
Three weeks before the uprising, he wrote on Twitter: “Great Washington Protest on January 6. Be there, he’ll be wild! “
But Trump is a former master at making outrageous comments while also hiding or leaving his actual intentions ambiguous. What exactly did he mean by “going wild!”? How far was he willing to go with this proposal? Most importantly, would the missing call logs covering the timeframe of the uprising provide clues as to its motivation?
One call Trump is known to have made in the black hole in those missing hours between 11:17 PM and 6:54 PM, was to Pence. At the end of January 6, the incumbent president made the last attempt to persuade his deputy to commit an unlawful act – delaying the certification of Biden’s victory against his constitutional obligations.
According to a report leaked from an interview with the New York Times, Trump urged Pence with the immortal words: “You can go down in history as a patriot, or you can go down in history as a pussy.”
Pence has gone down in history as a patriot – fulfilling his constitutional duty and certifying the right result. But that phone call was an important point in the chronology of Trump’s coup attempt: it was a point of no return – his last move to stay in power through political persuasion.
If Trump had passed that point, he would have entered much darker territory. As Sykes put it, “When he called Mike Pence, who was he calling next? Once he knew the vice president would not obey his orders, what next?
David Frum, former White House speechwriter for George W. Bush, writing in the Atlantic, said there were two main lines of investigation: whether Trump had previously given the go-ahead to the Capitol uprising and whether he had coordinated in any way with the attackers.
On January 6, the committee focuses heavily on the so-called “war room” – the group of Trump’s close associates who gathered at the Willard Hotel in Washington as the “command center” of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. They included his former strategist Steve Bannon, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and John Eastman, a conservative law professor who drew up a detailed plan on how Trump could unlawfully maintain power.
As reported by the Guardian, Trump told the Pence group of his refusal to join the coup plot. But otherwise we are in the dark.
As a result of the missing records, it is unclear whether the then president remained in contact with the Willard Hotel group as the uprising progressed. It is also unknown whether they discussed further tactics.
A flaw in official documents could also hinder the commission’s attempt to determine whether there were direct contacts between Trump and the January 6 organizers. Ali Alexander, who initiated the Stop the Steal movement and who scheduled the One Nation Under God rally on the Capitol grounds, which was canceled for violence, was an interesting figure on the committee.
Before the uprising, he spoke with Kimberly Guilfoyle, partner of Trump’s son, Don Jr. CNN said it also said in videos released before the attack that it plans to appeal to far-right groups that the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are asking for. ensure the safety of his rally.
Both organizations have members who are being prosecuted for crimes on January 6. Earlier this month, the leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested on conspiracy and other charges. The founder of Oath Keepers and 10 other members have been accused of a subversive conspiracy.
Alexander testified before the committee on January 6 in December. In his opening address, he said: “I had nothing to do with the violence or the breaking of the law that happened on January 6th. I had nothing to do with planning. I had nothing to do with the preparation. And I had nothing to do with the execution.
The words could easily have come from Donald J. Trump. The challenge facing the committee, in the absence of disappearing telephone records, is to establish whether they are real.